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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Foxes may possess an "internal" compass

New scientific  research indicates that the fox species may possess an "internal" compass. Apparently this is why foxes are such good hunters.

"Foxes often utilise a hunting behaviour known as ‘mousing’, where a high jump takes the animal above small prey such as voles, which are doubtless surprised to find the relatively large predator descending on them from out of the sky."

"Now Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany and his team show that foxes tend to jump in a north-eastern compass direction. In addition, successful attacks are “tightly clustered” to the north, they report in Biology Letters."

"Their latest discovery came about when Jaroslav ─îerveny, an author on the magnetic-cow study, noticed a fox mousing in a northward direction. With his curiosity piqued, the hunt was on and some 592 mousing jumps by 84 foxes were observed and analysed."

"When hunting in low-cover – where prey would be spotted visually – there was no real preference in jumping direction. But in high vegetation or snow there was a significant preference for north-eastern jumps. And in cover 74% of successful attacks clustered around 20 degrees clockwise of magnetic North, with 15% due south and most other directions yielding no dinner for the fox."

"The association also appeared unrelated to factors that you might expect to influence the direction a predator approached a tasty victim – such as wind direction and the position of the Sun. In addition, in high cover or snow there is no possibility for shadows cast by foxes to be a factor, notes Burda."

"Once they had convinced themselves that foxes did align, says Burda, the question became why."

“Our favourite hypothesis,” he says, “is that the magneto-reception can be used as a rangefinder to measure distance.”
To read more about this research please click on the following link: 

Source of image: 

 It is interesting that some animals have this built-in-compass and that some of us (like yours truely) have no idea which direction I am facing when I am outside or inside!

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.