Are other species engaging in advanced behaviors related to Earth’s magnetic field to which we are oblivious? Will humanity’s pooping without regard to planet-level electromagnetic fluctuations eventually be our undoing? Motherboard writes:
A team of Czech and German researchers found that dogs actually align themselves with the Earth’s magnetic field when they poop.
The researchers measured the direction of the body axis of dogs during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that dogs “prefer to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm magnetic field conditions.”
It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align, whether they do it ‘consciously’ (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (the dogs ‘see,’ ‘hear’ or ‘smell’ the direction) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they ‘feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable’ in a certain direction). Dogs not only prefer N-S direction, but at the same time they also avoid E-W direction.
This isn’t the only example of animals seemingly sensing the Earth’s magnetic field. Birds, turtles, and fish are known to use magnetic guidance while migrating. Cattle and deer are known to graze on a north-south axis—as with defecating dogs, this is magnetic north, not the geographic one.
But this was perhaps the first time that magnetic sensitivity was proven in dogs, and it was also the first time that a predictable behavioral reaction to the fluctuations in the magnetic field—magnetic storms, often as resulting from solar flares—was proven in a mammal.