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Science Idle

Dogs Defecate In Alignment With Earth's Magnetic Field 222

Posted by timothy
from the markov-chain-as-god dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "But for whatever its worth, all that spinning is far from arbitrary. What dog owners witness is a small and furry version of the aurora borealis and a link between species and environment that's as holistic and beautiful as a dog pooping can be. A team of Czech and German researchers found that dogs actually align themselves with the Earth's magnetic field when they poop. Proving at least that they're really devoted to their work, the researchers measured the direction of the body axis of 70 dogs from 37 breeds 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." They fittingly published their results [abstract] in the journal Frontiers in Zoology ."
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Dogs Defecate In Alignment With Earth's Magnetic Field

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  • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @07:46PM (#45851829)

    I suspect the dogs just don't like staring into the sun then they poo. I'd also speculate that since streets and walls tend to be aligned with the cardinal directions there's an overall alignment augmentation due to their surroundings. finally if they like to poo in a shadow of a tree then likely they may face back to the tree and thus have a bias to north or south alignments.

    Wait. That means that during the early hours they should be facing West and during the late hours they should be facing East. At high noon it doesn't matter what they do. There's no sun-related time that would put bias on North/South axis alignment and the data shows a bias against East/West alignment.

    As for the assertion that the alignment of streets and walls are involved, I accidentally RTFA and found this curious line. "The magnetic consciousness was observed only in dogs off leash, in the middle of a field."

    Better yet, there's variation in behaviour that reflected magnetic fluctuations.

    So it turns out dogshit science isn't as easy as you thought.

  • by OneAhead (1495535) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @09:28PM (#45852697)

    (A draft of) the actual research article is freely available here [frontiersinzoology.com]. Key points not mentioned in the summary:
    * the researchers concluded the magnetic field was responsible after observing the dogs lost their directional bias on days with geomagnetic storms, which is pretty cool IMHO
    * the researchers did explicitly discuss bias due to the direction of the sun, and the measures they took to eliminate it from their study.

    All in all, their findings are not to be taken as gospel (as always with original research), but if confirmed, they could spark a hunt for underlying biochemical mechanism.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.

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