Monday, 1 September 2008
Cows point the way.
This is an amazing piece of research conducted by scientists (so it must be true). It would seem that the humble bovid has a tendency to orientate themselves on a north-south axis!
Researchers have shown that cows have a good sense of direction and tend to point towards north. They are also pretty good at weather prediction. Scientists from the University of Duisburg-Essen studied images of cattle from Google Earth and noticed that they tend to face in north-south orientation. These images were from a number of different countries and continents, at different times of day and in a variety of daylight conditions, so the scientists concluded that the common factor in all cases had to be the earth's magnetic field. Pretty cool, eh! Many of the images weren't clear enough to show which way the cows were pointed, in other words whether they were head onto north or tail on.
The researchers also looked at deer and found that they tended to face north when grazing or resting in a similar way to the cows. This ability of cows to find north is thought to be a throwback from the days when their wild ancestors needed to migrate across the plains of Africa, Asia and Europe.
I always knew there was more to a cow than meets the eye. How useful this could be in terms of natural navigation, I'm not sure. My gut feeling is that there will be a lot of local factors that will influence a herd of cows but I shall certainly be taking more notice of them in future to see if the there is any 'truth' in the whole thing.