Humans have a lousy record of predicting earthquakes, but odd behavior by animals at Washington's National Zoo, shows that some animals have a finely tuned ability to sense when a quake is coming.
Zoo keepers in Washington noticed a bunch of strange behavior starting about 15 minutes before Tuesday's East Coast Earthquake, when the red ruffed lemurs sounded a distress call and raced up to the top of the trees. Then the ducks all took to the water, the flamingos huddled together in a big group, the elephants stood up alert, and the snakes started to writhe about. The gorilla Mandara let out an alarm cry and grabbed her baby Kibibi before climbing to the top of a tree.
The staff were puzzled trying to figure out what could be up, but once the 5.8 magnitude quake hit, it all started to make sense. Many animals have senses that are far more acute than humans, but it's not clear whether they are hearing the earthquake, feeling the first tiny tremors, or sensing something else.
If humans can figure out how the animals do it, it could be the key to creating a life saving earthquake early warning system. This could give us a few critical minutes to go somewhere safe when the big one hits.