The animals felt the arrival of the tsunami

Animals, not to mention a "sixth sense", are armed with a spectrum of perception that is more developed than humans, which explains why many of them, like elephants, were able to escape death during tsunamis. in Southeast Asia, explain French specialists. (note: In Sri Lanka, no dead animals have been counted, much to the amazement of the officials!)

"In everything that is vibratory, earthquakes or sound waves, animals have skills that we do not have or no longer" to anticipate an abnormal event. Thus we see "dogs or cats panic even before the arrival of an earthquake or a volcanic explosion", explains to AFP Hervé Fritz, researcher in ecology and animal behavior at CNRS. Elephants, which have been reported to have run inland to Sri Lanka or Thailand, "have infrasound modes of communication. They perceive signals that are inaudible to humans in the infrasound and have the physiological equipment to communicate with each other over very long distances, several tens of km, ”explains the researcher. For last week's earthquake, there are two plausible hypotheses: they felt the arrival of the tsunami either by the “signature on the ground” of the wave, or thanks to a noise that the men themselves did not perceive.

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"Compared to other species, they have a better faculty of association and a great motor capacity", adds Hervé Fritz. A large number of species have means, specific or generic, to defend themselves from a danger, even if they ignore its nature: for example bats, which use a kind of sound radar which allows them to recover the echo on an obstacle of a cry they emitted. Thus they are aware of a change in vibration, which signals a dramatic change in their environment. Another example is the rabbit and other four-legged animals which, on the basis of ground vibrations, have learned to foresee dangers. (...)

Animals have "alert codes": they emit alarm calls like deer when approaching predators, or birds when a raptor hovers. The elephant, which is very vocal, is able to express its nervousness by cries associated with danger. Without knowing how to swim effectively, which elephants or tigers do very well in Asian fauna, "many terrestrial mammals are able to get out of a critical aquatic situation", and for example to cross a watercourse if the situation imposes it, according to Hervé Fritz.

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Agence France Presse, the 04 / 01 / 05

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