We all know how amazing our beloved canines are at tracking things down and finding their way with their trusty schnoz’s, but what if they were using another lesser known sense: the ability to navigate using the earth’s magnetic field.
Sounds kind of like a superpower, no? Scientists from across this blue-green globe of life have been trying to prove and figure out just how they can do it. One scientist observed that our four-legged friends do their business in a north-south orientation in order to mark/recognize territory and orientate themselves using these spots.
Next, other scientists put video cameras and GPS trackers on four lovely voluntary hounds (humanely of course) and sent them on scenting trips in a forest. As a result, two behaviors were observed:
- A voluntary dog would retrace its way back the same route using scent and
- Scouting occurred which is when a clever little pupper found its way back along a completely new bushwacking route, it was noted that type (2) behavior would stop and run for 20m along a north-south axis presumably to orientate themselves first before finding their way back. This experiment was then done on a larger scale using 27 canine volunteers of which the results were similar.
This experiment posed many obstacles as scientists had to figure out a way to remove (not literally, calm down) the use of the other navigational senses from the test but due to their formidable intelligence, they triumphed in the end. This method of navigation is a suspected ancient ability may be used by many mammals (even us to a degree) that travel large expansive areas. Scientists are excited to see where their findings and further research will lead!
Feature Image Source: Pixabay