Facts you should know
Do animals have a sixth sense ? (07 Sep 2014)

The idea that animals can predict impending natural disasters dates back thousands of years, and anecdotes persist to this day. Following the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that struck on Boxing Day 2004, reports emerged of elephants, buffalo and other animals running to higher ground before disaster struck. More recently, the respected Journal of Zoology reported an exodus of toads from a pond of L'Auila, Italy, just before the town was struck by an earthquake in 2009.

The idea that animals can detect such events ahead of time has some credibility. In 1997, researchers at the University of California reported that elephants could detect the stomping of others over 48 km away, which may also allow them to detect tremors ahead of the main quake. Earthquakes also release electromagnetic pulses and positive ions which may be detectable by animals. To get to the bottom of the mystery, the space agencies of Germany and Russia are collaborating on Project Icarus, which will tag around 1000 birds and bats and monitor them from space. The aim is to find out if unusual bevavior is more common before sesmic events - a sign that animals have an ability to detect coming disaster.