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Google Earth Shows Cows’ Animal Magnetism
By   |  Sep 06, 2008

HERE’s a tip – if you ever get lost and need to find north, locate a cow because they reportedly align themselves with Earth’s north-south magnetic fields when grazing or resting.

While birds, turtles and salmon are known to use magnetic guidance to migrate, cattle were not previously known to possess an inner compass.

Farmers had found that cattle stood perpendicular to the sun to heat up their bodies on cold, sunny days, or parallel to the wind during winter days with particularly strong winds, scientists said in a study,

But the farmers’ wisdom and scientific studies had not provided answers to the common alignment of cattle during days with optimal weather, they said.

“Amazingly, this ubiquitous phenomenon does not seem to have been noticed by herdsmen, ranchers, or hunters,” said the study, co-written by Sabine Begall of Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen.

“Because wind and light conditions could be excluded as a common denominator determining the body axis orientation, magnetic alignment is the most parsimonious explanation,” said the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The scientists used Google Earth software to study the alignment of 8510 cows in 308 pastures around the world and 2974 red and roe deer in 241 locations in the Czech Republic.

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