Home » Animal minds » Coffee!! Well, anyway, don’t run the OTHER way

Coffee!! Well, anyway, don’t run the OTHER way

A friend wrote recently to tell me that we learned recently from the BBC that toads can ‘predict earthquakes’ and seismic activity

Common toads appear to be able to sense an impending earthquake and will flee their colony days before the seismic activity strikes.

The evidence comes from a population of toads which left their breeding colony three days before an earthquake that struck L’Aquila in Italy in 2009. How toads sensed the quake is unclear, but most breeding pairs and males fled. They reacted despite the colony being 74km from the quake’s epicentre, say biologists in the Journal of Zoology. It is hard to objectively and quantifiably study how animals respond to seismic activity, in part because earthquakes are rare and unpredictable. Some studies have been done on how domestic animals respond, but measuring the response of wild animals is more difficult.

Well, that is probably one reason why they are “common” toads, not “endangered” toads.

There is nothing unusual about this, just neglected information.

Many types of animals make use of early warning systems that humans never notice.

Check out Rupert Sheldrake’s work on animal early warning systems. Dawkins tried to make a fool of him, but Sheldrake had the good sense a few years ago to throw him out of his lab.

Anyway, if you live near the ocean, and see hordes of toads hopping frantically uphill … follow them.

Note: Comments keep getting closed here (doubtless bug in system), so I will just say re Lenoxus at 5: It is the alleged Darwin-only “experimentation” around woven basket nests that is completely unbelievable – not anything else you have written about birds laying eggs. Obviously, too many eggs would get broken in a Darwin-only process to enable survival of the species. I notice you smuggled that in at the end. You seem to need to save the idea of a Darwin-only process involving implausible experimentation because you MUST believe it. Why don’t you guys just admit that you are blowing smoke, and more and more people know it? See Cordova above.

Note 2: Beyond a certain point, population declines become irreversible – and that is probably an important factor in extinction.

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6 Responses to Coffee!! Well, anyway, don’t run the OTHER way

  1. Sheldrake worked with humans too:

    Rupert Sheldrake: Telephone Telepathy
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdOi3s-tBzk

  2. Mrs O’Leary

    Well, that is probably one reason why they are “common” toads, not “endangered” toads.

    Your funniest line in quite some time! ;) Thanks for the chuckle.

  3. 3

    Sheldrake has also worked on several potentially ID friendly projects including the origin of instincts and body forms. I think he’s most famous for his idea of morphic resonance, where organisms develop under the influence of previous similar organisms.

    Sheldrake conceives of morphic fields as a database for both organic and abstract forms.

    It’s interesting stuff!

  4. Yes, Hans at 3, Sheldrake’s work IS interesting stuff.

    See, if I am asked to believe that little birds that build woven basket nests by working together as mates developed that capacity solely through natural selection, it just sounds wrong.

    Too many eggs would be broken in the process of discovery to enable the survival of the species!

    Some other source of information is kicking in. I am NOT claiming it is mysticism, magic, proof of God’s existence, or why creationism should be taught in public schools.

    None of that is even relevant.

    I am saying that we are missing something big about the origin of information in life forms.

    Darwinism is a major hindrance to beginning the path of discovery precisely because it restricts what we are allowed to consider to the same old (increasingly unbelievable) same old.

  5. O’Leary:

    See, if I am asked to believe that little birds that build woven basket nests by working together as mates developed that capacity solely through natural selection, it just sounds wrong.

    Too many eggs would be broken in the process of discovery to enable the survival of the species!

    I love these wild either-or ways of describing all biological developments.

    Of course birds did not start out the “process of discovery” by laying their eggs in three-twig nests on high tree branches, or some such nonsense. Instead, it is very, very likely the first nests were built on the ground, as many still are today. A great deal of nest-building knowledge may have developed in just that context. Since eggs are round, preventing them from rolling off a slightly-sloped nest is an important problem to solve, but one with far less dire consequences than broken eggs.

    From there, there is a trend towards the safety of higher and higher ground, which gradually increases fitness (within a different niche) by allowing the parent birds to afford to spend less time guarding the eggs, and supervising the hatchlings.

    This “just so story” may sound absurd, but consider how many bird species use knots in trees: it’s a “half-and-half” solution to the twin problems of the dangers of the ground (like snakes and lack of hiddenness from other predators) and the dangers of the air (namely, falling). While eggs are in a tree knot, they are safe enough for continued “experimentation” in the nest-building methods, to the point that a willingness to not use a knot becomes completely reasonable.

    This page on the subject isn’t terribly well-written when it comes to describing evolution in general, but it is chock full of neat information. Thanks for inspiring me to Google that subject!

  6. Lenoxus, it astounds me that the ‘evolution’ of Bird’s Nests is taken seriously as science while Dr. Sheldrake’s studies in Psychical powers of animals is not taken seriously as science. We can observe and measure this power of animals in real time while Nest evolution is entirely speculation.

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