Unexplained: all cows, everywhere, simultaneously face north (or south) while eating

By | February 1, 2010

… Have you ever noticed anything peculiar about cows when they eat? No? Well, neither did anyone else until some German scientists started looking at satellite photos of cows using the high tech wonder-software known as “Google Earth.” It turns out that all cows, everywhere, simultaneously face north (or south) while eating.

Scientists have a pretty good idea how they do this; like most every other animal on Earth that isn’t a human, cows (and deer and sheep) can detect the planet’s magnetic fields, so well in fact that power lines [screw] up their feeding. The big question is why in hell do they bother?

via 6 Creepy Animal Behaviors That Science Can’t Explain | Cracked.com.

Have you ever noticed that herds of grazing animals all face the same way?

Images from Google Earth have confirmed that cattle tend to align their bodies in a north-south direction.

Wild deer also display this behaviour – a phenomenon that has apparently gone unnoticed by herdsmen and hunters for thousands of years.

In the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, scientists say the Earth’s magnetic fields may influence the behaviour of these animals.

The Earth can be viewed as a huge magnet, with magnetic north and south situated close to the geographical poles.

Many species – including birds and salmon – are known to use the Earth’s magnetic fields in migration, rather like a natural GPS.

A few studies have shown that some mammals – including bats – also use a “magnetic compass” to help their sense of direction.

Dr Sabine Begall, from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, has mainly studied the magnetic sense of mole rats – African animals that live in underground tunnels.

“We were wondering if larger animals also have this magnetic sense,” she told BBC News. …

Professor John Phillips, a sensory biologist from Virginia Tech University, US, commented that this sixth magnetic sense might be “virtually ubiquitous in the animal kingdom”. – bbc

7 thoughts on “Unexplained: all cows, everywhere, simultaneously face north (or south) while eating

  1. DURGADAS DATTA

    ALL ANIMALS INCLUDING MAN/WOMAN FEEL GOOD WHEN THEY SIT OR LIE NORTH -SOUTH DUE TO THE ALLIGNMENT OF BLOOD FLOW DUE TO IRON IN BLOOD WITH THE MAGNETISM OF EARTH AND COWS HAVE MORE PERCENTAGE OF IRON IN THEIR BLOOD ,SO THEY FEEL EVEN BETTER.

      1. Nai

        Yeah…. everyone in my home sleeps north south, you actually do get more rest than sleeping in other directions, not to mention south north, which might be worse.

    1. Cheng

      Hmmm. I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference. Should your head be north or south of your feet? When sitting, what difference does it make, when most of your body is vertical anyway? Presumably, the scientists at the south pole should sleep standing up or on their heads to benefit from this as the field lines there are at 90° to the ground.
      I sleep almost exactly east-west and sleep like the dead most nights.

      I’ve also not noticed any alignment of feeding livestock. Most herds seem to have a completely random pattern for feeding, except that they ARE a herd and tend to stick together for safety. See this time lapse video:

  2. sav

    Scientists have gone stupid! they always revert to the planet’s magnetic fields for every animal bird fish dinosaur whatever! how come we humans don’t detect the magnetic field lines! the cows do It to keep the sun out of their eyes.

  3. Troy l Glover

    The wind usually blows from west to east and since Most grazing animals hate to have the wind blowing in their face, so they turn their body when they eat….it really is that simple.

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