Foxes see Earth’s magnetic field and use it to target prey
2011-02-04 0:00

By Lindsay Patterson | EarthSky.org

Foxes are the first animals thought to use Earth’s magnetic field to judge distance, not just direction.

Birds do it. Bees do it. Now, foxes are the most recent of Earth’s animals suspected of utilizing Earth’s magnetic field as part of their everyday functioning.

Foxes that are hunting small animals in high grass or deep snow might be using the magnetic field to launch a successful attack against prey. Writing in the journal Biology Letters, a Czech research team said it suspects the foxes use an internal compass to judge both direction and distance.

It’s been shown that cows and deer, not just birds and bees, orient their direction to the Earth’s magnetic field. But foxes are the first animals thought to use an internal compass to determine the distance to prey.

Foxes jump high to surprise their prey from above, a hunting technique called “mousing.” Czech researchers observed that foxes on the hunt tend to direct their jumps in a roughly northeastern compass direction, regardless of the time of day, cloud cover, or other factors that could affect how they perceive their prey. In fact, a large majority of the nearly 600 attacks the scientists observed were oriented in the same direction. They found that 74 percent of the north-east-oriented attacks were successful, while attacks launched in other directions had only an 18 percent rate of success. That’s too big a difference to be random, the scientists believe.

Foxes are known to use their keen sense of hearing before launching their jump, and that works well when they can also see their prey. But the scientists had reason to suspect that they had another sense to judge how far to jump when they can’t see small creatures in snow or high vegetation.

The research team wrote:

We suggest that mousing red foxes may use the magnetic field as a ‘range finder’ or targeting system to measure distance to its prey and thus increase the accuracy of predatory attacks.


They suggest that the fox may see a ring of “shadow” on its retina, that is superimposed on its surroundings and always fixed towards magnetic north. The fox would line up the shadow with where it hears its prey, and is thus always at a fixed distance away from the prey when it launches its attack.

Here’s how Nature explains it:

Think of a laser pointer attached to you that always points slightly downwards in the same direction. Now think of some object on the ground. If you walk towards the object until the laser spot is on top of it you know that object is a set distance away.


That may explain why foxes are such good hunters: they use the Earth’s magnetic field to zero in on their prey.


Article from: earthsky.org

Amazing Fox Snow Dive (2009)

Video from: YouTube.com






The Red Fox’s Magnetic Attraction
From: CBC’s Quirks and Quarks


Mousing fox, courtesy Jaroslav Vogeltanz

"We know the fox to be sly and cunning, but new research by Dr. Sabine Begall, the Associate Head of the Department of Zoology at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany, has found another remarkable trait. Foxes have the ability to find prey in either tall grass or under cover of snow, using the Earth’s magnetic field.

For this reason, the fox has a preference for facing magnetic north, within ten degrees, when hunting. The research showed a much higher success rate when the fox aligned itself in this way than in any other direction.

The research suggests that the fox sees a shadow on its retina that is darkest toward magnetic north. Like a normal shadow, this ’image’ appears to be a constant distance ahead of the fox. When the shadow lines up with where the fox perceives the sound of a mouse, for example, it launches itself into the air, coming straight down on its prey. "


Listen to this item (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3.


Article from: cbc.ca/quirks





Related Articles
Birds use quantum theory to literally ’see’ Earth’s magnetic field as they fly
British Geological Survey: Magnetic reversal may now be in progress
Shift in magnetic north pole affects... Tampa airport
Ask a Physicist: Geomagnetic Reversal, The End of the World? (Video)
Military Testing Behind Mass Bird and Fish Deaths?
Quebec bird deaths stump wildlife officials
Dying birds stir extinction fears - New Zealand
Sun "Fireworks" Responsible for the Mass Killing of Birds?


Latest News from our Front Page

The Viking ”Maine Penny” Mystery
2015-03-05 3:41
In 1957, during his second year of digging at the Goddard site; a large prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, local resident and amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren found a small silver coin. The coin is later identified by experts as a Norse silver penny dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre, king of Norway ...
The Sagas of the (Viking) Icelanders Shed Light on Golden Age
2015-03-05 3:40
The Sagas of the Icelanders have long been preserved as the most comprehensive specimen of the literary culture of the 13th and 14th centuries of Iceland. In writing these sagas, many attributes of the 10th and 11th centuries were conserved, particularly individual biographies, the history of family feuds, and the overall evolution of the one of the greatest settlements ...
Benjamin Netanyahu's Full Speech to Congress
2015-03-05 1:36
Here is the full speech of Pathological Zionist Liar Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States Congress. "And the Oscar goes too ...." Description from YouTube: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel used one of the most prominent platforms in the world on Tuesday to warn against what he called a “bad deal” being negotiated with Iran to freeze its nuclear program, bringing ...
The FDA Admits That Prior to 2011 Over 70% of U.S. Chickens Contained Cancer-Causing Arsenic
2015-03-04 20:32
Prior to 2011, the cancer-causing toxic chemical Roxarsone, which in high doses could kill you, was being added to chicken feed on purpose, giving store-bought chicken the illusion of healthy coloring and plump appearance. Shockingly, this was the case with more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens! A recent article was published stating that this continued to be the ...
The Truth About Starbucks New Coconut Milk: It Isn’t Really Coconut Milk
2015-03-03 22:14
In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative. Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, ...
More News »