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

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

Recent Israeli Synagogue Attack, a Possible False Flag?
2014 11 21
Dear Friends - I woke up yesterday morning to see a newspaper lying on the kitchen table with the front page proclaiming that five people were slain in an Israeli synagogue after a so-called "Palestinian attack." Some members of the media said that four people were killed, others said five, so it seems like that there was some confusion (or ...
The Michael Brown Shooting, Race Baiting for Political Power and Militarization of the Police
2014 11 21
From Youtube: The evidence clearly shows that Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown, so why is this case being hyped by the mainstream media and the leftist political establishment?
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies. “GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
More News »