Whilst precognition, the ability to see future events through extrasensory means, has not been proven in the animal kingdom (or anywhere in the known universe for that matter), anecdotal evidence still suggests that some creatures might react to disasters before they actually take place. Here are 7 powerful predictor species, who seem to be skilled at sniffing out all kinds of catastrophes, from ground-shattering earthquakes to life-changing personal traumas. Caution, take some of these accounts with a pinch of salt!
Ahead of the devastating Boxing Day tsunami that hit Asian coastlines in 2004, flamingoes were among the first species to notice that something was wrong. The wading birds abandoned their low-lying breeding areas for higher ground before the giant waves made their fatal impact.
Elephants are another example of a species that seem able to predict earthquakes. It’s been suggested that they can feel sound vibrations through the ground, and the giant land mammals have even been spotted lifting one foot in the air to ‘listen’ more intently with the other feet.
Before Japan’s magnitude nine earthquake in 2011, many cats were noticed trembling, trying to escape and otherwise acting restless. The felines seemed to have predicted the quake well in advance—these behaviours were noted as many as six days before. Researchers believe it may be due to the cat’s wider range of hearing, or even an ability to detect changes in gravity and atmospheric pressure.
While common rain is rarely considered a natural disaster for us humans, it’s a different matter for the fragile bee. The clever pollen gatherers are able to detect moisture changes in the atmosphere before the heavens open, allowing them to find shelter and avoid being washed away by a heavy storm.
The same Japanese earthquake that caused cats to act cranky also seems to have been predicted by cows, who showed lower milk production six days before the disaster. Elsewhere, a New York dairy farmer also reported a 90 percent correlation between a decrease in milk production and the onset of an earthquake.
Rather than running away from scary storms, sharks seem to gravitate towards them. Tiger sharks in particular are so good at detecting rapid temperature changes that occur when a storm intensifies that scientists are data tagging them, with the hope that they could improve storm forecasts by up to 20 percent.
Dogs have such a brilliant sense of smell that they are being used to detect cancer in humans. Although there’s still no foolproof and universal cure for the disease, our loyal canine friends are giving patients a much higher chance of survival: published studies show that dogs are extremely accurate at detecting signs of some specific types of cancer, providing the potential for a non-invasive and low cost early detection screening for the general public.