Toad’s Mating Habits Change Before Quake Hits Italy

Hump a Wart

"Will you hurry up? The atmosphere's been ionized - we need to seek higher ground."

“Our findings suggest that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of earthquake early warning system.” –Dr. Rachel Grant; Open University; Milton Keynes, UK

Scientists out of UK, studying toad populations in Italy documented the comings and goings of the warty amphibians before, during, and after an earthquake that hit Italy in 2009, the BBC reports yesterday. While the pre-seismic cues are quantifiable by an electromagnetic measurement known as very low frequency (VLF) radio sounding, we’re S.O.O.L when it comes to explaining how the toads observed it. But the behavior they exhibit was certainly interesting.

Grant had studied the toads in this area for four years before the quake hit. Five days before the quake she noticed a change in the population: the number of males at the breeding site dropped by 96%, despite that they’ll usually keep at it until spawning finishes. Then, three days before the earthquake the number of breeding pairs dropped down to zero and no spawn were laid from the time the earthquake began, until its last aftershock. The toads seemingly sought higher ground, to avoid the rock slides and mud fall and possible drowning.

Essentially, toads are better at seismology than humans and were able to pull their own fat out the fryer. Life is a miraculous thing, evolving in ways we could never imagine – in most instances.



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Filed under Nature, Nerd Blurbs, News, Science

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