In what just might turn into the scientific breakthrough of our time, the seismological bureau in Nanjing has converted seven ordinary farms into seismic activity detection stations, believing that by closely monitoring the behavior of barnyard animals, they will be able to successfully forecast earthquakes.
According to China Daily in an article headlined “Psychic animals recruited to help predict earthquakes,” animal breeders on these
farms stations will report the behavior of their animals twice a day through QQ messenger. If the animals display any “abnormal behavior” they are to text in immediately.
What kind of behavior exactly would be designated as abnormal? Zhou Hongbing, a breeder turned seismologist, gives a few helpful examples: “Chickens flying atop trees instead of eating, a large number of fish leaping out of water or many toads moving home.”
Actual photo caption from China Daily: “Chickens play unaware that they are being closely monitored.”
Along with chickens, fish and frogs, noble pigs are also being recruited for their special psychic abilities.
Of course, researchers aren’t purely relying on the keen awareness of breeders, they have also set up cameras across the farms to closely monitor the animals’ behavior. Experts will bring all this information together and then analyze in order to determine if a quake is imminent.
In the past, China has used a super old tree to accurately predict the weather and adorable baby pandas to less accurately predict the result of World Cup games. As for the scientific basis of this possibly groundbreaking study, China Daily cites a few historical cases:
As early as the 1970s, 58 kinds of animals were found to display abnormal behavior before earthquakes. They included wild and domesticated animals such as cats, dogs, pandas, fish, snakes, rats, ants and bees, according to a survey by the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Cave animals, such as rats and snakes, are found to be more sensitive than those living above the ground, and smaller ones more sensitive than bigger ones.
Records of quakes show that animals displayed abnormal behavior before they occured. For example, six weeks before the devastating earthquake in Yingkou, Northeast China’s Liaoning province, in 1975, snakes in hibernation left their caves and geese kept honking and refusing to enter their nests. Also before the deadly earthquake striking Tangshan, North China’s Hebei province, hordes of rats were seen fleeing nests and more than 100 skunks migrating.
But, despite some encouraging anecdotal evidence throughout history, the science isn’t all in on animals as earthquakes predictors yet. The phenomenon still needs much more study and empirical evidence, which hopefully can be provided by animal breeders in Nanjing as they try to decide whether that chicken in the tree is behaving “abnormally” or not.
Still, China has been at the forefront of earthquake detection technology for the past 2,000 years and we wish them and the whole psychic barnyard animal crew the best of luck.
by Alex Linder
[Images via China Daily]