Can animals predict earthquakes?

Do animals really possess a sixth sense that allows them to predict an earthquake before it happens? For years some scientists have claimed so, but the doubt have long persisted.

For now, there is no evidence to support this phenomenon, according to report by a group of researchers of the Research Center for Geosciences located in Germany published on April 17, 2018 in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

To arrive at this conclusion, the seismologists went through 180 scientific studies on the subject, gathering in all more than 700 observations during 160 different earthquakes and analyzing the behavior of 130 species.

According to these scientific publications, some animals are able to predict an earthquake a few months to a few seconds before it is triggered. Some of these studies relate cases where the subjects were a few kilometers from the epicenter while others were several hundred kilometers away. Most of the observations noted were punctual, only 14 were conducted on the “long term”: the longest only lasted 1 year.

Another remark made by the German scientists: few of these studies presented figures. According to them, the lack of scientific rigor of these studies does not allow to conclude that the animals adopt an abnormal behavior before the outbreak of an earthquake.

However, they found that the number of precursor animals found is related to the proportion of tremors, which suggests that most of them actually felt the earthquake when it had already begun.

So-called abnormal behaviors would begin in the early stages of an earthquake, subtle changes that humans do not necessarily perceive.

“The animals may be feeling the seismic waves generated by the tremors,” Heiko Woith, lead author of the study, suggests. “Another option is that side effects triggered by tremors — such as changes in groundwater or the release of gas from the ground — are felt by the animals “.

In any case, the researchers think that the animals do not feel environmental changes before the beginning of the process but only after it had already started.

And without a follow-up of the animal for several years, it is impossible to rule out the possibility that the abnormal behavior of the animal is not the result of a disease or any other factor external to the natural disaster, the researchers explained.

To prove a hypothetical detection of earthquakes by the animals before the tremor actually triggers, scientists indicate that their colleagues will have to use well-defined protocols. If not, the magical sixth sense of animals may well remain a legend forever.

Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.