Earthquake Predicting Toads?!? Yes, Earthquake Predicting Toads

toad close up photo

photo: Lida via flickr.

It's long been known that many animal species somehow are aware of impending natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, but new research shows that common toads can sense earthquakes up to three days in advance. BBC News reports the evidence comes from a population of frogs that apparently sensed seismic activity before the 2009 L'Aquila quake in Italy, evacuating their breeding colony. More remarkable is that the colony was 74 kilometers from the epicenter of the quake.

Think it sounds like bunk? The Journal of Zoology doesn't think so, just publishing the research by biologist Dr Rachel Grant.

Grant had been studying toad behavior in Italy when the earthquake stuck, when she observed 96% of male toads leave the breeding center five days before the quake. This was unusual because male toads normally hang around until spawning has finished. Then, three days before the quake, no breeding pairs were found and no spawn were laid during the time from the first quake through all the aftershocks.

As to how the toads know when quakes are going to strike:

Our findings suggest that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of earthquake early warning system.

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