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back to article Italian toads predicted L'Aquila earthquake

A UK biologist has presented evidence that common toads can predict imminent earthquakes after a colony she was studying hopped it before the major quake which hit L'Aquila, Italy on 6 April 2009. Dr Rachel Grant of the Open University was routinely monitoring a Bufo bufo population at San Ruffino Lake, some 74km from the …

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Hey El Reg

The toads hopped it, surely?

Shouldn't be surprised. Animals knows things, you know.

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Coat

Foul bachelor frog

was too busy fapping

/mines the one with the book of chan

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Pint

Toads Are Grounded...

...having a large contact area. This would make them sensitive to any electrical disturbance.

Humans dance in the temple position (hands together, elbows spread) because this forms an antenna that connects them to the Universe. It is interesting to note that dancing did not originate with Humans, but rather with vertibrates, even fish dance for each other, but probably to exhibit good genetics, rather than to attain attachment to God.

Heading to the refregeration device for more aluminum clad (211) grain product.

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Happy

Interesting escape strategies and Humans...

@"toads escaped to higher ground"

Escaping to higher ground does seem to be a common strategy. Shame it doesn't always work. Still it seems to work better for a lot of creatures more than us humans, who so often stand around and stare and think hmmm... thats interesting, meanwhile all around us the other creatures are running like crazy for the hills. But still I do wonder how many critters in history have thought the high ground is safe, only to find out too late the earth is moving because the hill they are climbing isn't a hill but an active volcano about to explode. :)

It does seem that Natural Selection includes a lesson in irony. :)

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Bronze badge

More New Age than New Scientist

So the observation of the behaviour of just one toad colony and one earhtquake somehow justifies huge media coverage (all over the BBC, Guardian, Mail et al). The following

The folllowing implies not only that toads can detect disruptions in the ionosphere but that these disruptions in the ionosphere are correlated with imminent earthquakes.

"She believes the toads escaped to higher ground "possibly where they would be at less risk from rock falls, landslides and flooding", and their exodus coincided with "disruptions in the ionosphere, the uppermost electromagnetic layer of the earth's atmosphere", which scientists detected around 6 April using very low frequency (VLF) radio sounding."

April 1st is tomorrow, so maybe this one slipped out early. Failing that, it's just an excuse for tabloids to produce puns like "hopping off".

If this is real, perhaps the researcher involve might care to produce a testable hypothesis from this lot and note a post-hoc correlation of some events involving toads, earhquakes and the ionosphere with only the most tenuous of causal theories.

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FAIL

Bad science...

This is really quite bad science - one event, one colony and they conclude Frogs (or i'll be generous and assume they only claimed this particular type of frog) is a good earthquake detection device.

How about the millions of other possibilities - an outbreak of pollution or algae in the lake, disturbance by a large predator in the area, the mafia dumping some bodies nearby, or who knows what else.

If they do this everytime for the next 4 earthquakes in the area (and lets all hope now there not as devestating as the last one!) then maybe ill start paying some attention to this claim but for now... i call bollocks....

One event does not allow a conclusion ot be drawn. Else that one time i found a €50 note stuck in a tree means that money really does grow on trees, right?

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Don't jump the gun

I don't this sounds like bad science to me. She observed behavior that coincided with an event. Animals are much more attuned to their surroundings than humans are. (@ Sceptical - Aligators can sense disturbances in the water from special pores we don't have - cows tend to face N or S in a field (not E or W) - and birds migrate following magnetic compass we don't have.

Don't bash her for having an idea. Nowhere does this researcher say she has proven anything. She has proposed a hypothesis that can now be tested by observing other frogs/toads around other major earthquakes. It's quire reasonable to come to this conclusion, then try to prove it. A scientific conclusion is basically just an opinion. Once its repeatable it becomes fact.

If she is correct this could give us DAYS of warning on very serious harmful events that we are otherwise oblivious to. This is a real scientific discovery... now it is up to the scientific community to prove or disprove this.

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Sceptical

We are animals. If animals can sense earthquakes then why don't we?

I think I read or heard that mini earthquakes happen every day everywhere, and occasionally one just goes too far and becomes a big earthquake. But scientists can't predict one from the other so how can frogs?

What scientists can do, sometimes, is fool themselves and find the results that they want to see, or outright fake it. Bottom line: many published science papers just aren't very good. And scientists know it.

P.S. I want to mention the one huge toad that told homeless human survivors to think of the experience as a camping holiday. One that you don't come home from, I suppose.

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Joke

Italian Toads can predict earthquakes?

Quick, somebody ask Berlusconi when and where the next big one's going to be.

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FAIL

Better to stick to what you know...

I realize biologists may not <always> be held to the same quantitative standards as physicists and geophysicists, but really, extreme caution is warranted when extrapolating outside one's area of expertise.

For decades now, geophysicists have carefully examined radon gas emissions, geomagnetic and geoelectric fields, strain rates, stress measurements, and microseismic records before and after many significant earthquakes. The consensus at this point is that there are NO statistically significant recognizable precursors in the short term (days to months) before large earthquakes.

The non-deterministic nature of earthquake triggering mechanisms makes this a reasonable conclusion. Stress builds up over many years and <will> be released. However the precise location and timing of the main stress release is subject to many complex factors, and is likely to remain unpredictable.

So odd behaviour of a single toad colony 74 km away from the L'Aquila epicentre? Nice try, but no.

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'gravity waves'

Is the BBC claiming that seismologists have detected something that cosmologists are still looking for, or are they, (as I suspect), making things up?

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RE: gravity waves

I have heard gravity waves used in 2 contexts, the spread of the affect of a gravitational body (through space) and the fluctuation of the gravitation field in a local area (density changes)

I think this time they are referring to the local gravitational change.

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Happy

Sceptical or stupid?

Do you hear what bats hear, or sense what snakes sense? Is your eyesight as sharp as an eagle's? Can you home like a pigeon, swim like a seal, climb trees like a squirrel?

I tellin yow, animals knows things. My cat comes to meet me when I arrive home in my car, whatever the time. Explain THAT, science

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Gold badge

"Explain THAT, science"

Cat's have really good hearing.

To a cat, your Ford Focus / BMW 318i / Maserati Quattroporte / whatever sounds subtly different to all the other Ford Foci / BMW 318i's / Maserati Quattroportes / whatevers out there.

Cat associates sound of approaching car (which can be detected from a considerable distance away - see the first point) with your return.

Cat learns that greeting your approach is more likely to result in affection and / or grub than remaining on the sunny end of the sofa.

Reward reinforcement is a powerful behavioural training tool and, whether you planned to or not, you have trained your cat to do this.

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FAIL

Revoke their biology license

It's astonishing that somebody could publish such a load of bull (toad) crap.

Repeat after me: Correlation is not causation.

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Silly Swedish scientists...

... they should know it's hard to tip a cow...

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Anonymous Coward

what really happened

Two toads in a pond

Toad1: "see that biologist over there, she wants to watch us having sex"

Toad2: "no problems, if we all go up that hill and hop at the same time we'll start an earthquake - that should get rid of her"

Toad1: "food thinking ... come on everyone - up the hill now"

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So Mother Nature says...

"Hop off, you Frogs!"

Time's fun when you're having flies.

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FAIL

@pun-ters

Toads don't hop.

Frogs do, but toads ain't frogs. They walk.

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Troll

If get killed in an earthquake

can I sue God as "He" made frogs and they didn't warn me?

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Gold badge

Here's a better "get rich quick" plan.

This one also removes the slight inconvenience of being dead and thus unable to enjoy your new-found wealth.

Patent the concept of earthquake predicting frogs and then sue God for infringement.

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