1 Tahrcountry Musings: Toads and Precognition

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Toads and Precognition

The latest issue of Journal of Zoology has a very interesting paper on the ability of Common toads to sense an impending earthquake. This discovery has great portents in our pursuit of credible early warning system for earthquake. Nature itself is showing us a way. It also shows yet another reason to protect our biodiversity.

The clear cut evidence comes from the study of a population of toads which left their breeding colony three days before an earthquake that struck L'Aquila in Italy in 2009.  Five days before the earthquake, the number of male common toads in the breeding colony fell by 96%. Usually once they have bred, the male toads remain active in large numbers at breeding sites until spawning has finished.

  The quake was a 6.3-magnitude event. The colony was 74km from the quake's epicenter yet the toads reacted with great alacrity. The study was spearheaded by Dr Grant

This visible change in the toads' behaviour coincided with disruptions in the ionosphere, which researchers detected around the time of the L'Aquila quake using a technique known as very low frequency (VLF) radio sounding. This kind of changes in the atmosphere has been linked by some scientists to the release of radon gas, or gravity waves, prior to an earthquake. In the case of the L'Aquila quake, Dr Grant could not determine what exactly caused the disruptions in the ionosphere. However, her findings point to the fact that the toads can detect something that points to an impending earthquake.

Even though in the past fish, rodents and snakes have been shown to react shortly before earthquakes strikes, this is the first time that an animal has been shown to react to earthquake days in advance.


Ranit Rajan said...


Anonymous said...

I have recently observed the multipedes in my house rearing up as if they are trying to elevate themselves off the ground. Of course they are normally active in Autumn so I will not expect a quake. Multipedes are common in my house and normally can rear up on occassion. Nonetheless for the historical record i comment on this behaviour in the unlikely event of a subsequent quake in Australia.