The Loh Down On Science

A weekly look at Southern California life, news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh

Bovine Magnetism

by The Loh Down On Science

Scientists find the first hard evidence that large mammals, maybe even humans, can sense Earth's magnetic field.

Ever wonder why cows in a pasture face the same direction?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh, with the Loh Down on Science

saying researchers from Germany and the Czech Republic wanted to know.

They examined Google Earth images of cattle at three hundred spots across the globe, and also visited the rangelands of about three thousand red and roe deer.

When standing still or sleeping, both cows and deer almost always orient themselves along a north-south axis.

Google Earth images weren't clear enough to tell cow heads from tails. But the researchers found most deer actually FACED north; about a third looked south.

The positioning could NOT be explained by wind direction, sun position, or daily temperatures. Instead, the animals always lined up within about five degrees of magnetic north.

The study is the first hard evidence that large mammals--and by extension, maybe HUMANS!--can sense Earth's magnetic field, just like turtles and birds.

They all practice a kind of outdoor feng shui!

Since you asked, MY pillow faces my wealth corner! Much good has it done me. I'd do just as well sleeping outside!

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