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Study Shows Cow Herds Face North

Chew on This: Study Finds Herds Have a Built-in Compass

Next time you can't find the North Star, you might consider looking for the nearest pack of cows. A recent study of Google Earth satellite images found that herds of cattle gravitate to face in the north-south direction of Earth's magnetic lines. The study also noted some types of deer have shown the same pattern, according to the BBC.

Many smaller species, such as birds and salmon, are known to use the earth's magnetic fields in seasonal migration; however, these recent findings show larger mammals have a similar internal sense of direction.

The researchers surveyed Google Earth images of 8,510 grazing and resting cattle in 308 pasture plains across the world. Apparently, it was often hard for them to distinguish heads from tails, but they were able to determine that animals tend to face either north or south.

If you're wondering what this means,


The study ruled out the possibility that the sun or wind direction were major factors in the orientation of the cattle. A sensory biologist from Virginia Tech University points out scientists still need to consider what benefit this "sixth magnetic sense" might provide for mammals.

For now, it seems there are no immediate answers. Do you have any guesses? This whole phenomenon is sure to show up in the next edition of Trivial Pursuit.


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