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back to article Toads predict earthquakes: Official

Scientists believe they have a plausible explanation for Italian toads' apparent ability to sense the imminent earthquake that struck the city of L'Aquila on 6 April 2009. By chance, Dr Rachel Grant of the UK's Open University was monitoring a toad population at San Ruffino Lake, around 74km from the quake's epicentre. As we …

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Blimee Lester

What's going on? Not a mention of a todger or fun-bags, just an interesting science piece. Is Attenborough standing in for you. No, silly thought - no mention of catastrophic man made global warming either.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Blimee Lester

I know - I must be getting old. Time to put on my slippers and have a hot chocolate by the fire.

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Mass Exodus Name

So with all the toads running(hopping) away instead of mating, would it be called a "Freundian Slip?"

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Facepalm

"to avoid croaking it"

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear!

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Coffee/keyboard

Yep, that had me laugh too. Thanks, I'll go and clean up now - worth it.

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That settles it

The wife and I have been bickering about this for years, but now it's settled ... I will DEFINITELY be keeping some toads in a jar on the kitchen counter. When they go nuts trying to escape the jars, you'll see me heading for stable ground, laughing at my wife all the way.

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Linux

I was wondering about that.

Because it's not toads, but the absence of toads that predicts quakes. [By that measure, we've been in earthquakes here since forever!] Or a crash of the local population from 0 to 0 (-100%! also -50%, or any other number)... so you cunningly add toads.

Hm. Do leopard geckos also predict quakes? They're much easier to keep.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, but...

...will you leave the wife behind?

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IT Angle

My stance on these kinds of stories?

There's simply much more to Nature than mankind will ever understand, or might I be so bold to say that I think it may even border to /willing/ to understand.

Guess its a bit of a rant but still.. Too many people seem to think that we're way "above" nature (think medical science, AI, etc.) and in my opinion they couldn't be more wrong. Because you may think to know it all but when Gaia (or Mother Nature I suppose, I like Gaia better) feels like unleashing a totally unpredicted hurricane then it remains to be seen how well all those insights serve you. You'll probably be running for your live, just like a fox or deer does when there's a forest fire going on. And suddenly there doesn't seem to be so much difference after all.

IMO studies and stories like these somewhat fall into this same category. We think to know it all; to have finally unlocked the mysteries. But then something else will come smack us over the head. How surprising indeed.

Which doesn't mean that I don't believe this story, as a matter of a fact I do. There have been much more sightings like these; right up to stories telling of a whole forest populace suddenly massing to another location. Prey and predators alike, as equals, thus leaving the observing people totally baffled. Only to be followed by a massive natural onslaught (mostly earthquakes).

Problem is; a lot of people are totally unwilling to believe such stories, only when articles like these surface do those people start to wonder about certain aspects. Which I think is pretty sad.

Alas... I'd advice those people who are now all of a sudden seriously considering to get a few frogs as new pets; don't bother. Even Ms. Kitty can have this gift; when she all of a sudden flees the litter box and goes out of the house, to the surprise of the whole family. Only to be suddenly followed by several tremors which begin to erupt. Don't take my word for it; ask around in Japan and you'll get plenty of stories like these.

My simplistic stance of the matter is simple; don't ever underestimate the forces of nature. We're not the supreme beings as some of us think we are; when it fits Gaia then you're gone. Just like that. Either by a natural catastrophe or a mere cardiac arrest. Nature can be just as cruel as it is beautiful at times.

And no; I'm by far an "enviromentalist". I do not believe in "green electrical power' (windmills, solar panels,etc) nor do I oppose nuclear power sources. As much as I respect "nature" as a whole (if you can actually consider it an "entity" of some sorts) I also think we shouldn't try to treat it like a vulnerable baby. Never underestimate the ability to adapt.

All those "filthy" automobiles with their CO2 outlets are actually feeding our plants and trees and making photosynthesis possible as well. Don't ever forget that tidbit. If you really don't believe this (why should you?) take a look at the German "Rurhgebiet". In the middle of a dozen Autobahn intersections in a /massive/ industrial plant area; what do you find? The most beautiful forests you've ever seen with the most fantastic flora. Right in the middle of several highway crossings ("Autobahn intersections"; where there is no speed limitation).

Anyway, enough (partly offtopic) rambling on my part :-)

Don't ever underestimate the power of Nature. That's my take on this.

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@ShelLuser

I was going to post something similar, but with a different slant. For me the interesting question is "Why don't humans [still] have this ability?" It seems likely that H. sapiens did at least some of its evolving in seismically active areas (Ngorogoro/Great Rift Valley), and so it can be easily conjectured to have had the same ability to get the flock out of the cave/general area prior to the ground getting jumpy.

However, like you, SL, I can't see why we ignore a very well documented effect (animals reliably behave in a certain way before earthquakes) in lieu of an inbuilt detection mechanism of our own.

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Coat

If Italian toads can predict earthquakes......

.....why didn't Berlusconi call for an evacuation before it happened?

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Coffee/keyboard

maybe he has less sense than the average toad.

A hypothesis that seems to fit all available data

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Easy..

For him, the earth has to move first..

:)

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Have to laugh (in the face of natural disaster)

For years scientists have been insisting that there is absolutely no possible conceivable way an earthquake can be predicted, and anyone claiming otherwise is a charlatan.

And now we've evidently been proven wrong by a wretched amphibian.

Science is great, open-ended, and wonderful. It's just most of the scientists who let it down.

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Anonymous Coward

"known in the medical community to cause headaches and nausea in humans."

So humans could know of the earthquake as well, but they usually ignore the signs!?

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Coat

Headache...

Will 2 giant aspirin applied to a tectonic fault prevent an earthquake?

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Trollface

If toads can predict earthquakes can we also have an investigation........

...............into what moles, water rats and badgers might usefully tell us?

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Joke

OK..

.. I'll do the badgers. It's weekend anyway.

What? Oh, not those? Dang..

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I don't think that "Wind in the Willows" was quite that...............

...............type of book old chap. -:)

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Holmes

Birds

Have myself witnessed birds taking off en masse (and the chickens going crazy because they couldn't) just minutes before an earthquake. Not sure if that's ever been explained properly either.

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Mr

If it's so easy to detect these charged particles coming up from stressed rocks, how come we don't have lots of little earthquake-predicting machines spread out along major quake zones, monitoring particle levels and beaming data back to a central location?

I'm being serious!

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Holmes

For the birds

I have personally witnessed birds taking off en masse (and chickens going crazy because they couldn't) just a couple of minutes before an earthquake - also in Italy, as it happens. Earthquake prediction is clearly a science that is still in its infancy ;)

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This wouldn't happen if the toads wore graphene hats.

There's nothing graphene can't do.

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Anonymous Coward

Effect and cause

Someone needs to look into the possibility that a lack of, or sudden migration of, amphibians *causes* earthquakes.

I notice that French restaurants suffer very few earthquakes whereas German ones are subject to a great deal of distressing teutonic activity.

Is the way to stay safe to buff up the bufo buffet?

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Anonymous Coward

So long and thanks for all the earthquakes

I'm gonna hop it.

I know you thought you'd seen this post before cos I heard you croak

reddit

reddit

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