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Do animals have a "sixth sense"?

The tsunami has spawned a tidal wave of media articles regarding animals' sixth sense. Some of the more unabashed authors speculate on some sort of zen connection with the mystical earth forces that would have done the alchemists proud.

What do you think? Can animals detect an earthquake or other natural disaster before onset? If so, why?

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Location: Aleknagik Alaska / Ozello Keys Florida
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Do animals have a "sixth sense"?

Very doubtful animals have any special "sixth sense" disaster indicators. Although I am sure there could be scenarios thrown on the table that could take forever to reason with. Humans that spend extensive time away from the artificial environments of their climate controlled homes, offices and man made structures and pavement that alter natural winds, humidity levels and so on, like any other animal becomes more sensitive to the slightest change in their immediate environment. I am sure some animals have better sense of hearing or smell than others but over all I think we are all created some what equal. I was in West Seattle February 2001 when the nisqually earthquake hit. It didn't take any special senses to realize that something was happening. The ground moved like waves on a lake, I became instantly somewhat seasick.
The areas hit by the recent tsunami are subject to typhoons. I can just assume a natural reaction to a drastic change in the local environment there could be to head inland or to take harborage in areas that are safe in the high water or flooding that a typical typhoon might offer.
I read a related story by a couple of guys from Montana that were in the tsunami effected area, they saw a bunny on the beach hopping through the debris left behind shortly after the waters had subsided. I suppose we would have to ask the bunny where he took refuge and how he knew it was time to take it if we wanted to know for sure.

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Do animals have a "sixth sense"?

No, no sixth sense. They just have some of their five senses that work better than ours. So, maybe some of them can feel the vibrations of the earthquake that case a tsunami when humans can't. Or maybe they can detect the sound of the wave coming before humans can. Or maybe even feel differences in air pressure that humans can't.

To humans, who can't detect these various subtle physical stimuli, it seems magical that the animals can. But it is simply that they have certain senses that are more highly sensitive than ours.

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Location: NE Minnesota
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Do animals have a "sixth sense"?

While you may not call it a sixth sense, animals (including us at one time) do have the abilty to feel vibrations, pressure changes, and sound waves. I have read in other instances experts believe the animals could indeed feel vibrations from the earthquake (much to far away for us to feel anymore, jeff). One account said that elephants took off running with their tourist riders on top going for the ride of there life!
I don't think anyone can dispute that animals are much more in tune with there senses and the world around them than we are. Now why they knew to run to high ground is something more intriguing in my mind. Is that just the default escape route?

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Location: Aleknagik Alaska / Ozello Keys Florida
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Do animals have a "sixth sense"?

Great point you brought up here.. We aka humans I believe at one point if not still had or have all the same senses that any other animal has. Some may be in greater or lesser qualities but never the less all the same. Few humans today call upon these instincts due to the unnatural environments we tend to spend most of our time in. When I was spending 7 months of the year in the Bob Marshall Wilderness sleeping in a tent while working our outfitting business, my senses of the more primitive nature were by far more well tuned. Before leaving Montana I was a town dweller for a few short years before moving to Alaska. There I stayed remote for three years. It took some time at first to get tuned back in to things. I did stay in a cabin there instead of a tent but it was rather primitive other than a wood stove and a wood floor. It seems I can to some degree regain these senses but only after weeks in the right environment. I can't say that I would ever be able to feel vibrations from far distant epicenters but I defiantly get better tuned to pressure changes and just getting tuned into the finer details of what's around me. This all brings me to one question. How long does it take for the more detailed natural senses humans have start to fade as we evolve if not used. With the way my own senses seem to fade but can be regained it makes me wonder if a person who has spent their entire life in the city and seldom leaves a controlled environment for any length of time may one day only be able to sense if the bus is late?

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