As crazy as it sounds, I promise this study is for real.
A few years ago, a group of scientists and researchers from universities in the Czech Republic and Germany came together to carry out one of the strangest experiments you’re likely to ever hear about.
A number of organisms around the world are known to spontaneously align their bodies with Earth’s magnetic field when they relieve themselves, and the researchers had a hunch that dogs did the same.
To test out this hypothesis, they gathered 70 dogs from 37 different breeds. After two years, 1,893 doggy defecations and 5,582 urinations, the researchers found that, under “calm magnetic field conditions,” dogs prefer to,
“…excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis.”
The dogs consistently aligned themselves with this axis, despite the fact that they were tested in a free roaming environment where there were no walls, roads or other features that could influence their linear alignment.
What’s more, the dogs avoided east-west alignment altogether throughout the entire duration of the tests.
So what’s the deal? Why do dogs align themselves north-south before using the restroom? Well, that answer is still a bit of a mystery.
According to the study,
It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it “consciously” (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (the dogs “see”, “hear” or “smell” the compass direction or perceive it as a haptic stimulus) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they “feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable” in a certain direction).
While there are still plenty of questions to be answered, the researchers hope that their findings will help open up “new horizons” in the study of how animals rely on Earth’s magnetic field for direction and navigation.
Check out the full study from the journal Frontiers in Zoology here.