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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ants can sense quakes a day before they strike

New York: Ants can sense earthquakes before they occur and the tiny insects suspend their normal activity till a day after the temblor, new research has found. 

    German researchers have discovered that red wood ants prefer to build their colonies along active faults, fractures where the Earth ruptures during earthquakes. Gabriele Berberich of the University Duisburg-Essen has counted more than 15,000 red wood ant mounds lined up along Germany's faults. 
    Betyween 2009 to 2012, there were 10 earthquakes between magnitude 2 and 3.2 and many smaller temblors. Berberich found that the ants changed their behaviour only for quakes larger than magnitude 2. 

    During the day, ants went about their daily activity, and at night the colony rested inside the mound, Berberich said. However, before a quake, the ants were awake throughout the night, outside their mound. 
    Berberich said the insects pick up changing gas emissions or local shifts in the Earth's magnetic field. "The ants have chemo-receptors for carbon dioxide gradients and magneto-receptors for electromagnetic fields," she said. PTI

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