The animals sensed the arrival of the tsunami

Animals, not to mention a 'sixth sense', are armed with a more developed spectrum of perception than humans, which is why many of them, like elephants, were able to escape death during tsunamis. in Southeast Asia, explain French specialists. (Editor's note: In Sri Lanka, no animal corpses were counted, to the amazement of officials!)

"In all that is vibratory, earthquakes or sound waves, animals have abilities that we do not have or no longer" to anticipate an abnormal event. Thus we see "dogs or cats panicking even before the arrival of an earthquake or a volcanic explosion", explains to AFP Hervé Fritz, researcher in ecology and animal behavior at the CNRS. Elephants, which have been reported to run inland in Sri Lanka or Thailand “have infrasound communication patterns. They perceive in the infrasound signals inaudible to humans and have the physiological apparatus to communicate with each other over very large distances, several tens of km, ”explains the researcher. For the earthquake of last week, 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 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 danger. 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 have, on the basis of vibrations on the ground, learned to sense the 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 and tigers do very well in Asian fauna, "many land mammals are capable of extricating themselves from a critical aquatic situation", and for example of crossing a watercourse if the situation requires it, according to Hervé Fritz.

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Agence France Presse, the 04 / 01 / 05

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