Can Animals Predict Disaster?

An elephant trumpets wildly, breaks a chain holding it to a tree, and flees to higher ground — just before a massive tsunami crashes ashore, drowning hundreds of thousands of people.

Did the elephant know the deadly wave was coming?

That’s the question explored by NATURE’s Can Animals Predict Disaster?

In interviews with scientists and eyewitnesses, NATURE probes the evidence that some animals may have senses that allow them to predict impending natural disasters long before we can.

Some creatures, for instance, may be able to “hear” infrasound, — sounds produced by natural phenomena, including earthquakes, volcanoes, and storms, that are inaudible to the human ear. This ability may give elephants and other animals enough time to react and flee to safety.

Another explanation may lie in animals’ sensitivities to electromagnetic field variations. Quantum geophysicist Motoji Ikeya has found that certain animals react to changes in electrical currents. He now regularly monitors a catfish, the most sensitive of the creatures he has tested, to aid him in warning others of coming disaster.

Follow NATURE as it reexamines ancient ideas about how animals can predict disaster which are now gaining credence in scientific circles.

To order a copy of Can Animals Predict Disaster?, visit the NATURE Shop.

Online content for Can Animals Predict Disaster? was originally posted November 2005.

  • Tim Little

    This was dreadful. The science, for lack of a better term, was prosaic and irrelevant. No body of scientists dismiss animal perception as superior to the sensory perceptions of those in the other classes of animals.

    What these “researchers” have demonstrated is animals can detect just those stimuli that scientists can track with electronic equipment.

    The show ignored the question “are animal observations superior or more accurate than scientific equipment”.

    The ONLY item where actual science was used was in tracking the elephant during the tsunami where the elephant was clearly oblivious to the entire event.

    There was also no objective examination of the lack of animal corpses.

    Will there be a follow-up done by skeptical “evidence-based” scientists?

  • Chip McCloskey

    I was completely appalled at the elephant that was shown wearing 3 feet of chain around his/her feet. This should be investigated as animal cruelty. Please tell me you didnt just film this and walk away allowing the horrific condition obviously shown in your show.

  • pedram

    how animals can predict earthquake

  • Danny M Reed

    At a resonant frequency of 18 to 19 hertz human vision is interrupted.

  • Samantha

    thise is cool!!!!!!!!

  • kayla s

    thats so cool that something could be so smart

  • sharice

    [ eye really think that thats c00l i never knew that a animal could be so smart it's like if their smarter than me or any person!!!]

  • rite rice

    i think this freakin stuff is kool

  • Claryy

    yOo How ya Dead SeriOus Believe Thiss ?? WOW !!! ya Beinqq Lied oO2

  • rite rice

    this is coOl

  • nasiaboo


  • reese babe

    [this is really really cool and cats rock!!!!!]

  • d


  • deffdgr


  • jorge

    i think this is good question that it was answer

  • J.D



    this shows how humans have lost dominion through sin and depravity, the times are bad and our only hope of escape and survival is knowing the bible. only jesus saves otherwise doomed

  • Songkham

    I’m sure insects (ant, termite…), animals are smarter than human beings, they know few days in advance before it will rain, natural disaster like earthquake, tsunami and so on (2004 elepant in Thailand knew 1hr before tsunami came and run up to the hill, 10s of whales died on shore in New Zealand 1 day before earthquake, and few days before 9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan (from resonant vibration?…), in meanwhile human scientists know nothing (but do know after…). We need to learn more from insects and animals

  • N.K

    This is great for my research project. The greek city of helice was swallowed yet rats, snakes, and weasels left their burrows a greek historian recorded.

  • Professor

    I would love to see a list of natural disaster events correlated by animal and type of displayed behaviour with the lead time to said event and said displayed behaviour. This would be the beginning of “Real” science.

    Furthermore, after an indisputable body of observations have been collected, an exploration into the mechanisms of such sensory perceptions needs to be investigated in order to apply these scientific findings in a useful way towards developing better disaster early-warning systems, since it is not practical for everyone to keep herds of elephants and whales, as well as flocks of birds and tanks of catfish on hand.

    As for the comments regarding animals being “smart” based on the inferred premise that heightened sensory perception = higher intelligence, you have most definitely proved at the very least that animals appear to be smarter than some humans; particularly those who post on Nature articles.

  • guma rowlings

    Guys, fact is these are just excellent gifts these other animals have which we humans can use for our good. its not right to make it look like these animals are more intelligent than humans coz thats generally not true. i think these gifted animals should just be trained to make alarm incase they sense danger. thats it, thanks.

  • Charlie

    HOW can everyone of you say that ANIMALS are smarter and more intelligent than HUMANS ?? I like to see a DOG comment here or a MONKEY build a SPACECRAFT!!! OR MABY…… LIONS building a ZOO to hold HUMANS!!!!!! They ate NOT(!!!!!!!!!!!) smarter than humans but SOME(!!!!!!!) definitely have better developed senses. THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEN SMARTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • anna

    yes i do belive in this stuff . look at all the facts

  • Quora

    Can animals predict earthquakes before they happen?…

    The red ruffed lemur sounded an alarm 15 minutes ahead of the recent Washington DC earthquake and again immediately after the shaking stopped, according to officials at the National Zoo; flamingos huddled, an orangutan “belch vocalized” about 10 seco…

  • seo

    any body now

  • seo

    I got an email “from you” wanting my updates just wondering if it was really from you. Thank you for your time. Martha

  • mikiya

    hi yall

  • mikiya

    hi alssya

  • Darci Muphy

    There is certainly a whole lot of facts like that take into consideration. Which is a great point to raise up. We give opinions higher than like typical drive nevertheless certainly there are actually problems similar to the 1 most people bring up the place the most important thing can be working in sincere good confidence. We put on? longer fully understand in the event that guidelines have emerged available offers like that, although I am sure that your choice of job is normally plainly defined as a reasonable gameplay.

  • Poekemaniac

    We all know that Alakazam is smarter than any of us. . . Its IQ is over 9000!hahahahahahahah but seriously, Goku totally would beat up Piccolo, he should NOT die. Bluma should get her wish. SHe makes me feel funny. Down there.

  • Dr.Maheer

    before one month, of 2004 tsunami kind fish (some body said kind of snake)first time appeard in the eastren cost of Sri lanka,than 2 weeks before the 2010 fload same creature appeared,again one week before the 2012 ,march 11th, 8.7 earthquack same creature there no reason to tell it could be seasonal migration,but envoironmantl change in the indian ocean could lead to this migration.

  • MartyMcfly

    Are the animals smarter than humans? I would think not. Maybe that they’re smarter than the ones who say they are smarter because the inteligence of those that say such things must be nill !? Hmmm. The supreme being, (GOD) for those whos intelegence is nill said that we (humans) should have dominion over all the earth. (Dominion) means control, not to be confused with abuse. He also said that all of these signs of calamity would be a hint that the end time is near.

  • Tom

    FYI – I recently published an article that that might help predict earthquakes, tsunami’s, and other natural disasters –

    I hope you or other “earthquake predictors” find this interesting. Keep in touch if you want.


  • Mike

    There is nothing “smart” or intelligent about an animal responding to a sensory stimulus. The lowest life forms, and even plants do that every day in myriad ways. The hypothesis that animals may have a range of sensory perceptions or capabiities that is broader than ours is plausible. We know that their hearing, visual acuity, sense of smell all differ significantly, with some having ranges and sensitivities well beyond the bounds of human sensory capability. Supposing that a different range of sensory capability equates to intelligence is inappropriate. If these animals were in fact more intelligent than we are, i.e. having greater cognitive ability and higher reason, etc., they would behave very differently from the way they do.

  • Hellen Tolsen

    Is they anyone against the idea of animals predicting earthquakes, please let me know it can help me in my work.
    thank you

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