What if toads could predict earthquakes?

Seen in the French paper Le Figaro on April 1st, this toad-related news story is no April fool’s prank: “Distinct behavioral changes in male toads were observed some 5 days before the April 6th, 2009 earthquake in the Italian village of Aquila.  This research was conducted by a team of British zoologists who study amphibians and their mating sites, and was published in the Journal of Zoology.”  The toads were located some 45 miles away from Aquila.  In the days leading up to the quake, the researchers noted that the toads began to desert the site—indeed, 3 days before the earthquake, no copulations were recorded, an unheard of occurrence.  The researchers still do not know for certain what exactly made the toads desert—but they have remarked that the lack of copulations coincided with the seismic movements that were occurring.  Other animal behaviors regarding earthquakes have been studied (among which: elephants, fish, snakes and wolves) but none seem as decisive as the toads’ behavior.

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