Dogs sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field

How do we know this? Why, by measuring the direction they poop in of course!

In an Ig Noble prize winning study a group of Czech and German scientists have, for the first time, recorded evidence of magnetosensitivity (an innate sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field) in dogs. Over a 2 year period a group of researchers and volunteers meticulously recorded the direction that dogs would face when doing their business and have discovered that in calm magnetic field conditions dogs appear to “prefer to excrete with the body being aligned along a north-south axis”.

“That is all very well” I hear you say, “but why would scientists be interested in the direction a dog faces when it craps?”

An excellent question! In truth they’re not, not in the sense that knowing the direction a dog faces when it squats was what the researchers were really interested in. No, no, the study was designed to determine if there was any evidence of magnetosensitivity in dogs, and this was achieved by using magnetic alignment (spontaneous alignment along an axis) as a paradigm. In order to test dogs for magnetosensitivity via magnetic alignment, scientists required a frequent canine activity that it was relatively simple to measure the alignment (ie orientation) of and which wasn’t affected by the close proximity of the researchers. Once several alternate options (inc. feeding and resting) had proved unsuitable for the purposes of the experiment, excretion was judged to be the most viable option, having the most potential for data collection independent of time and space.

So you see, there was a scientific basis for this rather humorous study!!

This study is not only the first to prove magnetic sensitivity in dogs, but is also the first to show a measurable, predictable behavioural reaction to natural magnetic field fluctuations in a mammal. These results have not only the potential to open up several areas of interesting future research in the field of magnetobiology but will also, the researches claim, force biologists and physicians to reconsider the effect that natural phenomenon’s, such as magnetic storms, could have on organisms.

Original article: Hart et al.: Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field. Frontiers in Zoology 2013 10:80.

 

 

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Russell Etherington

Scientific publisher with keen interest in the communication and dissemination of science

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