Sat 27 Sep, 2003 04:59 pm
Study: Dogs Can Sense Imminent Earthquakes
TOKYO - A Japanese researcher claims that dogs can sense imminent earthquakes and that observing their behavior could improve prediction efforts.
Kiyoshi Shimamura, a public health doctor, said that during years of practice he noticed a jump in dog bites and other dog-related complaints around times that earthquakes occurred.
Shimamura said his observations prompted him to examine the records of such complaints from 12 public health centers in parts of western Japan affected by a 1995 Kobe earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people.
He said accounts of dogs barking excessively, biting and displaying other unusual behavior spiked by about 18 percent in the two months before and after the magnitude-7.2 quake.
Records at three centers on Awaji Island, which was above the epicenter, showed a 60 percent increase in the month prior to the earthquake compared to a year earlier, he said.
"The results, which were collected from a wide range of data, can be linked to earthquake prediction," said Shimamura, who is not a seismology expert but specializes in statistical analysis.
His results will be presented to the Seismological Society of Japan next month.
The city of Tokyo spent years in the 1990s researching whether catfish behavior could be used to predict earthquakes, but abandoned the study as inconclusive.
Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, sitting atop four tectonic plates. Citizens live in fear of a massive quake striking highly populated cities.
I am wondering if this phenomenon has anything to do with a dog's hearing. It is possible that there are sounds that emanate from the earth before an earthquake actually occurs that is out of the human frequency range, but may be perceived by dogs. I would imagine that a sharp increase in high frequency sounds would have an irritating effect on the animals, sort of like when you scratch chalk across a blackboard. This would certainly account for the increased biting.
What do you all think? Does my idea make sense to you?