New Study Claims Dogs Can’t Predict Earthquakes

A new study claims that though anecdotal evidence may suggest that animals can predict natural disasters, when it comes to earthquakes, that’s probably not the case.


A new study published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America suggests that contrary to popular beliefs, animals are not capable of predicting natural disasters like earthquakes.


Many have been known to claim their dogs and cats acted erratically right before the onset of an earthquake, but the researchers of the study concluded there was not enough substantial scientific data to back that theory up.


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The researchers looked at claims of people who were insistent that their pets or farm animals were able to predict an earthquake prior to the rumblings and movement of a subsequent earthquake. They analyzed the data and found that the bulk of the claims didn’t have significant scientific data to back them up.


Heiko Woith is the lead author of the research and said that to the best of the researchers’ knowledge, while many review papers looked at the potential for animals to predict earthquakes, theirs is the first time a statistical review was used to evaluate data.


Woith said that most of the claims are from people who felt their animals were acting a bit funny before an earthquake, and that in many of the claims, the timeline of alleged weird behavior was varied and went from seconds to months before the actual quake. Many of the claims where just from individual observations and not necessarily consistent, tracked behavior patterns.


According to Woith, there is a small amount of actual scientific data that exists regarding animals and earthquake predictions, but it’s riddled with unsubstantiated claims that don’t offer scientific value. The researchers do believe that earthquakes may trigger a response in animals right before the rumbling, but there isn’t any current data that would back that up.


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Woith said that it stands to reason that the animals may sense the seismic waves that foreshocks generate, or they may sense the changes in groundwater or gas releases from the ground, which is also triggered by foreshocks. The only way to prove dogs or any animals may have predictive ability is to scientifically observe behaviors long-term.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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