For centuries, people have described the unusual behavior of animals before earthquakes: snakes crawled out of their holes, dogs began to bark, toads left ponds. In a 2013 study, German scientists were able to film the amazing behavior of ants that changed their way of life before the earthquake. However, all these observations were not scientific evidence that animals can sense an impending catastrophe, but recently everything has changed.
Many are sure that animals have a seventh sense that can predict catastrophes and detect the presence of an otherworldly force, but is this really so?
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior and the University of Constance were able to measure and document the increased activity in a group of animals prior to the earthquake. For about four months in 2016 and 2017, scientists measured seismic activity in one region of Italy by attaching highly sensitive GPS sensors to six cows, five sheep and two dogs living on a farm. During this time, more than 18,000 tremors were recorded.
After analyzing the activity of animals, scientists noticed that it increased significantly before earthquakes of magnitude 3, 8 or more. The scientists also noted that the "panic" among the animals increased as more and more individuals were connected to it. This observation is consistent with the theory of collective behavior, where different species "listen" to each other.
Animals could “foresee” earthquakes from one to 20 hours. The closer they were to the place of the future shock, the faster they reacted. This discovery, the authors argue, is consistent with the hypothesis that animals somehow sense the signal of an approaching earthquake. However, what exactly tells the beasts about the impending disaster is still not entirely clear.
According to a 2010 study, when tectonic plates begin to move, "squeezing" rocks along the fault line, mineral ions that can be sensed by animals are released into the air. However, many scientists are skeptical about this work, so there is no exact answer exactly how animals feel seismic activity.