Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 12:29 am
This is a surprise to me. Have you noticed this?


from the Scientific American -
http://www.sciam.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=FB9B3CC3-E299-DCDD-838FD534037D00CB


August 26, 2008 in Biology |
Cows Tend To Face North-South
Google Earth images reveal that cattle around the world tend to align themselves with the earth's magnetic field. Adam Hinterthuer reports.

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

Don't be fooled by those big bovine eyes and the mouth slowly chewing cud"cows have a magnetic personality. At least that’s the claim made by German researchers in the August 26th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using Google Earth images, the scientists looked down on over 8,000 cattle around the world. And, when grazing or resting, cows tended to face either magnetic north or south.

The researchers combined field observations with the satellite data and discovered that herds of both deer and cattle tend to align themselves north-south. Factors like wind and the angle of the sun had little bearing on how the animals stood. More often than not, like needles of a compass, heads swiveled northward. While it’s been known that birds, bees and fish use the earth’s magnetic fields for orientation, this study is the first to point to a magnetic sense in large mammals. The scientists speculate that this behavior may allow the animals to stay spatially oriented. In case danger lurks and a cow needs to make any sudden…moos.
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 01:07 am
I suppose I've already mentioned that you can tell the temperature by the length of a sleeping cat?
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 01:09 am
@roger,
It wouldn't surprise me. I can tell the weather with a stone.

http://i25.tinypic.com/118my4m.jpg
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 02:01 am
@Robert Gentel,
Well, you gotta calibrate your own kitty!
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 02:32 am

Where can I get me one a them there stones?
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 06:09 am
I dunno, I'm more inclined to put credence in the stone than in the cow thing.

Not that I don't think they're capable, I just don't see how it benefit them in any way.





Well, except that they speculate this...

Quote:
The scientists speculate that this behavior may allow the animals to stay spatially oriented.


...which sounds suspect to me...
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 06:24 am
@patiodog,
Why wouldn't cows wanna stay spatially oriented?

They haven't spent their whole evolution hanging out in paddocks, chewing cud!
patiodog
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 06:26 am
@dlowan,
I don't buy that using the earth's magnetic field is an effective way to stay oriented. It utterly fails to take local geography into question, for instance.

Now, a lot of ruminants (you know, cows, deer, and whatnot) do range over tremendous areas of land, so I'd buy it as an advantage in migration (as it is for the other species mentioned who orient according to the magnetic field)...
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 06:28 am
@patiodog,
I bet primordial cows used to migrate....

Grassies do, generally, at least to some extent...no?
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 07:31 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

And, when grazing or resting, cows tended to face either magnetic north or south.


Probably to keep the sun out of their eyes.
George
 
  3  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 07:48 am
Most cows belong to the Elmeric sect of Bovinism. Elmer Tauromagnus, the
sect's founder, is said to have reached "Bordena", a transcendental state, while
migrating north.

Cows themselves do not call this alignment "orientation". They know that that
implies facing east. They call it "boreation".
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 08:31 am
@George,
The cows heard that.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 08:51 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:


Google Earth images reveal that cattle around the world tend to align themselves
scientists looked down on over 8,000 cattle around the world.
And, when grazing or resting, cows tended to face either magnetic north or south.

The researchers combined field observations with the satellite data and discovered that herds of both deer and cattle tend to align themselves north-south.
More often than not, like needles of a compass, heads swiveled northward.



Seems to me that little date tends to make hamburger out of the claim ....
Dudley Bowring
 
  3  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 08:54 am
I've always felt that I would make a good cow.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 09:13 am
@Dudley Bowring,
Interesting self-estimation, Cuddley..
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 09:25 am
@Dudley Bowring,
Dully Glowing wrote:
I've always felt that I would make a good cow.

If you've the plans, I can get the parts.
0 Replies
 
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 09:48 am
Per growing up on a farm with cattle, I've heard this before as handed down from the elder farmers. Might be a farmers almanac kinda wisdom. Might be true.

I wonder if it has to do with their more complicated digestion process. Facing north south might help them cough up the cud without it hitting another cow or calf in the face if they all know which way to stand. You know... Ya don't spit into the wind.

Just as one might also study satellite photo's of people and find that when walking on sidewalks and stairs they tend to stay to the right. Phenomenon? Evolution? Or, learned behavior to assist with keeping order?

Wha? You think cows and deer don't have social order? Pffft!
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 09:54 am
@ossobuco,
Data, I meant data.

I don't think cows arrange dates. (Want to meet with the Steers on Friday?)
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Aug, 2008 01:33 pm
The deer and elk beds that I come across in the bush don't seem to substantiate this and I sure didn't notice this among cattle.

When it's butt cold and blowin' hard they are in a huddle, facing away from whichever way the wind is blowing.

When it's other temps they seem to be pointing every which way.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2008 05:56 pm
@JTT,
I've spent some years in a town near a dairy farming area, and I'm feeling incompetent for not having noticed this.. every which way seems more common to me, except of course in heavy wind.
0 Replies
 
 

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