dogs line up to the Earth's magnetic field to poop

Posted on: Sat, 01/04/2014 - 23:09 By: Tom Swiss

From the "maybe my job isn't so bad" department: research published in Frontiers in Zoology demonstrates that dogs have small but definite preference to line up with the Earth's magnetic field with doing their doody:

Frontiers in Zoology | Abstract | Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth's magnetic field

We measured the direction of the body axis in 70 dogs of 37 breeds during defecation (1,893 observations) and urination (5,582 observations) over a two-year period. After complete sampling, we sorted the data according to the geomagnetic conditions prevailing during the respective sampling periods.

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Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm MF conditions. This directional behavior was abolished under Unstable MF. The best predictor of the behavioral switch was the rate of change in declination, i.e., polar orientation of the MF.

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It is for the first time that (a) magnetic sensitivity was proved in dogs, (b) a measurable, predictable behavioral reaction upon natural MF fluctuations could be unambiguously proven in a mammal, and (c) high sensitivity to small changes in polarity, rather than in intensity, of MF was identified as biologically meaningful. Our findings open new horizons in magnetoreception research.

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