Jan. 8 - Dogs use the Earth's magnetic fields to align their position while defecating, according to new research. A team from the Czech Republic and Germany studied the body positions of 70 dogs across 37 breeds while they excreted, and found that they preferred to poop while aligned with the north-south axis. Jim Drury has more.
CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES Best known as the scourge of parks and residential pavements, dog defecation now lies at the centre of an intriguing new survey. Scientists from Germany and the Czech Republic have discovered that dogs are attuned to the Earth's magnetic field, and defecate accordingly. SOUNDBITE (Czech) PETRA NOVAKOVA, CZECH UNIVERSITY OF LIFE SCIENCES, SAYING: "The dogs are very precisely oriented on the north-south axis while pooping, but only if the magnetic field is stable." Petra Kovakova from the Czech University of Life Sciences and her colleagues studied the body positions of 70 dogs while they did their business outdoors. 37 breeds were tested and Kovakova says, the evidence was clear. That dogs of all shapes and sizes avoided pooping towards the east or west whenever possible. The researchers aren't sure why dogs are so magnosensitive. But they've ruled out the position of the Sun, having witnessed the phenomena in various seasons and times of day. There is one exception to the rule, though. Solar flares or geomagnetic storms cause magnetic field fluctuations, which lead dogs to take a more random approach. SOUNDBITE (Czech) SCIENTIST, PETRA NOVAKOVA, SAYING: "On January 6 the magnetic field was very stable, which means that the dogs were very well oriented during pooping.....On January 2 the magnetic field was very restless and the dogs were pooping in a random fashion." Many animal species are believed to use the Earth's magnetic field for navigation, including birds. But humans don't share this instinct, according to lead researcher Professor Vlastimil Hart. SOUNDBITE (Czech) PROJECT LEADER, PROFESSOR VLASTIMIL HART, CZECH UNIVERSITY OF LIFE SCIENCES, SAYING: "We need to use a compass to get from point A to point B. The animals know this all instinctively. We still need a tool to help us. When we understand the animal's life and find out how it reacts, what effect on them deviation of Earth magnetism has, then we can think about some future use of such magnetism." The team says its research may help biologists understand the effects of magnetic storms on organisms....a bottom-up approach in the pursuit of science.