2009 - Volume #33, Issue #1, Page #05[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Do Cattle Have Magnetic Sense?Have you noticed that cattle tend to line up in the same direction?
A German-Czech research team at the University of Duisburg-Essen has discovered that cows apparently have a magnetic sense that causes them to line up with the earth's magnetic field when grazing or lying down. Of course, other creatures - such as navigating birds - have long been known to detect magnetic fields. But cows have no apparent real need for their surprising ability.
Using Google Earth's web-based satellite imaging, the researchers did a detailed study of thousands of cattle in pastures and plains around the world. They found that grazing cattle will tend to move in line with magnetic fields and lie down that way as well. The scientists ruled out the direction of wind and sunlight as reasons for the north-south orientation because conditions varied so much from place to place.
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