More than 3000 years ago, Chinese scholars were already convinced that animals can predict natural disasters.
If the scholars were watching the behavior of wild and tame animals - including fish, reptiles, birds, mammals, and sometimes insects - they would be warned hours, days, or even weeks in advance of an earthquake or volcano eruption.
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Volcanoes and earthquakes are preceded by signals in the form of temperature changes, small vibrations in the soil and the escape of gases, which animals with their sensitive senses can better absorb than any measuring equipment. Scientists have been collecting messages about animal behavior and discussing the phenomenon for years, but only recently have they had a better idea of it.© Claus Lunau
When the Etna volcano erupted several times between 2012 and 2014 and earthquakes hit central Italy in 2016 and 2017, researchers were able to demonstrate that animals had reacted in the preceding hours.
For example, goats and sheep moved from the slopes of Mount Etna to areas of high vegetation - a sign that an area is rarely flooded by lava.
The researchers concluded that animals feel a natural disaster arriving at least 4 to 6 hours in advance.