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Can cows be considered navigators?
Cows always face north-south when grazing.
Next time you're driving past a farm or a rolling pasture, confident in your route, take a look at the grazing cows. They probably havea better sense of direction than you.
New evidence suggests cows sense the Earth’s magnetic field and use it to line up their bodies to face either north or south when resting or grazing. The phenomenon was discovered by a team of German researchers who studied Google Earth satellite photos of morethan 8,500 cows in more than 300 pastures all over theworld. The team discovered that the majority of cowsfaced in a north-south direction, regardless of wherethe sun was or how the wind blew.
The study began almost by accident. After conductinga similar study on mole rats, the researchers intendedto study humans by analyzing the position of campingtents. They discovered that the images were too smallto see, but when they noticed an abundance of cows innearby fields, they decided to shift their focus.The researchers then wondered about other largemammals and turned their attention to deer. Theylooked at deer grazing patterns and examined oval imprints in the snow where the deer slept. Again, the researchers found a similar north-south orientation.
Past studies have shown that some mice can sensethe Earth's magnetic field as well. Bats and some migrating birds use the magnetic field for navigation, but the benefits to cows and deer are unclear.