Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sloane. Sloane Wonders, “ How can dogs sense earth quakes” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sloane!

Have you ever heard that groundhogs can predict the end of winter? How about that elephants never forget? Or that dogs can smell fear? That may not be true. However, many animals do have stronger senses than humans.

In fact, some animals even seem to have super senses. Octopuses have excellent sight. Catfish have over 175,000 taste buds. Elephants have 2,000 scent sensors. Bees and many other animals can even feel the Earth’s magnetic field.

But do animals have a sixth sense? Can they tell the future? That may sound out of this world. However, many events seem to support this idea.

Thousands of years ago, a big earthquake shook Helike, Greece. Buildings were destroyed. Many people were hurt. And records from 373 BCE report something interesting. The city’s animals acted strangely days before the quake. Rats, snakes, and weasels ran from the city in herds. Did they know an earthquake was coming?

In 1975, Chinese officials ordered one million people to evacuate the city of Haicheng. Why? They believed a disaster was coming. They thought this, in part, due to strange animal behaviors. Just days later, a large 7.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the city. Experts said 150,000 could have lost their lives had people stayed in the city.

Animals seem to be pretty good at predicting earthquakes. But it doesn’t stop there! In December 2004, the animals of Sri Lanka were acting odd. Elephants ran from plains to higher ground. Dogs wouldn‘t go outside. Flamingos fled the shores. Zoo animals wouldn‘t leave their shelters. Soon after people saw these strange behaviors, a tsunami hit the island’s coast.

It’s not just disasters that animals seem to predict. They even seem to sense small changes in the weather before they happen. Bees are known to find shelter before it rains. Dairy farmers claim they can tell a big storm is coming when their cows lie down. Cats and dogs are also said to know when a storm is on its way, as are birds and turtles. Can animals really tell the future?

Don’t throw out your crystal ball just yet! Experts say it’s unlikely that animals actually tell the future. However, some do believe animals’ stronger senses sometimes tip them off. They might hear or feel the first rumblings of an earthquake before people do. Maybe animals with a strong sense of smell can feel changes in moisture before the first raindrop. After all, they can‘t rely on a weather report! Instead, animals may have found other ways to predict the next storm. 

Animals' predictions aren’t always right. However, it may not hurt to pay a little more attention to the creatures around you. Bees and squirrels may be better at warning you of an upcoming storm than the weatherperson is!


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