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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Google Earth Shows [most] Cows Point North

Cnet News article (extract) :-

"Turns out cows may have internal compasses much like birds and bees do for orienting themselves to magnetic north.

"Using satellite images on Google Earth, German scientists were able to see that all over the planet, cows stand with their bodies pointing to magnetic north.

"Studying photographs of 8,510 cattle in 308 herds from around the world, zoologists Sabine Begall and Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen and their colleagues found that two out of every three animals in the pictures were oriented in a direction roughly pointing to magnetic north.
"The resolution of the images was not sufficient to tell which ends of the cows were pointing north, however.

"...but because the photos on Google Earth are so widespread and taken in generally good weather, it appears that cows have a "default setting" of north-south orientation when local conditions don't override it."

link to Cnet news article
link to CNN video track

Comments :-
by Jeff - August 26, 2008 2:18 PM PDT
Maybe they should come to TX and see them pointing E-W, SE-NW, NE-SW and every other position in between. I live in the country and have cows all around me, they seem to point in all directions all the time.
by Riquez - August 26, 2008 3:16 PM PDT
"two out of every three animals in the pictures were oriented in a direction roughly pointing to magnetic north. The resolution of the images was not sufficient to tell which ends of the cows were pointing north, however."
Hold on a minute. So out of 3 cows, one is facing north, one south & one east.
& who's to say the cow pointing north wasn't in mid turn to face west.
.

2 comments:

Mike (EkimKS) said...

My mother has said that children sleep better at a new location if oriented the same to the earth's magnetic field as they are at home. May be an old wives tale. But perhaps worth a scientific investigation.

And I saw report that migrating birds recalibrate their internal compasses according to the magnetic field at sunset. If place in a cage at sunset and subjected to a magnetic field that overrides that of the earth, then they'll head off in the wrong direction in the morning.

Que said...

Yes, it could be an old wives tale, but the inner ear of children just might be more sensitive than we realize ... or perhaps because houses are usually placed to get the most out of the sun, the rooms within them are probably aligned in a certain way; eg. with the long side perpendicular to the setting sun - an alignment that the child might be used to.
Regarding the cows ... what's wrong with ones that aren't aligned in a north-south direction? Are they rebels, or just cows who don't want to do the same things as the rest of the herd?
About the birds and their 'compasses' ... does that mean that their compasses don't work while they are sleeping, and the recalibration has to be done at sunset? Perhaps there is a link with the children who are used to seeing (or sensing) the direction of the setting sun?
Phew, I need a rest now!