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Dogs Defecate In Alignment With Earth's Magnetic Field

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the markov-chain-as-god dept.

Science 222

Daniel_Stuckey writes "But for whatever its worth, all that spinning is far from arbitrary. What dog owners witness is a small and furry version of the aurora borealis and a link between species and environment that's as holistic and beautiful as a dog pooping can be. A team of Czech and German researchers found that dogs actually align themselves with the Earth's magnetic field when they poop. Proving at least that they're really devoted to their work, the researchers measured the direction of the body axis of 70 dogs from 37 breeds during 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations over the course of two years, and found that dogs "prefer to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm magnetic field conditions." They fittingly published their results [abstract] in the journal Frontiers in Zoology ."

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wow (5, Funny)

realilskater (76030) | about 10 months ago | (#45851415)

sounds like a shitty job

Re:wow (5, Insightful)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#45851533)

But they have secured next year's igNobel...

Re:wow (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45851995)

But they have secured next year's igNobel...

I dunno, Ig may want to wipe their hands clean of this one.

Re:wow (4, Funny)

Enry (630) | about 10 months ago | (#45852285)

If they ignore it, there could be a very big mess for them to clean up. They can't let someone else scoop up this prize. These researchers have it in the bag.

Re:wow (4, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | about 10 months ago | (#45851609)

What do you think grad students are for?

Re:wow (4, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | about 10 months ago | (#45852351)

Abuse and entertainment?

Re:wow (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#45851889)

sounds like a shitty job

You wouldn't believe to what lengths some people go to get their Ig Nobel.

Re:wow (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45852119)

sounds like a shitty job

But you gotta stick with it

Re:wow (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852287)

this topic has gone to the dogs

Most Appropriate Journal (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852185)

Should have been published in "Annals in Zoology" instead

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852481)

sounds like a shitty job

Funny, I was thinkin' the same thing.

Maybe that explains it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851427)

Maybe that's why I prefer to use the north-south oriented bathroom in my house instead of the east-west one.

I smell bullshit (2)

jonfr (888673) | about 10 months ago | (#45851437)

I smell bullshit moving around the news media at this moment.

Re:I smell bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852053)

Not bullshit, dog shit!

Now, who run bartertown?

Re:I smell bullshit (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 10 months ago | (#45852097)

I have 2 dogs. When they pee at the same time, they always do it at right angles to each other...

Re:I smell bullshit (3, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45852509)

I have 2 dogs. When they pee at the same time, they always do it at right angles to each other...

One of them obviously likes flux closure domains....

I wonder if they did the study with multiple dogs peeing at the same time. This could be your opportunity to publish a follow-up PhD in Zoology!

dogs deficate not staring into the sun (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 10 months ago | (#45851439)

I suspect the dogs just don't like staring into the sun then they poo. I'd also speculate that since streets and walls tend to be aligned with the cardinal directions there's an overall alignment augmentation due to their surroundings. finally if they like to poo in a shadow of a tree then likely they may face back to the tree and thus have a bias to north or south alignments.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | about 10 months ago | (#45851465)

I wonder which way they poo in space and can anyone hear them scream?

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (4, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | about 10 months ago | (#45852363)

Pooing in space has a well known direction:

Everywhere

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851645)

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the sun moves across the sky during the day.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852199)

You mean, the frightful day-star, it can actually move?! How fast is it? Can I evade it?

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (4, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | about 10 months ago | (#45852461)

Maybe this research was conducted by grad students. They wake up just before noon, and work for about an hour.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (2)

rednip (186217) | about 10 months ago | (#45851647)

If that was true, then wouldn't it be more likely that they'd end up in a 'east-west' alignment(or something similar depending on latitude) during daylight hours , with the facing direction dependant on time of day than 'north-south' and random directions at night. If this turns out to be a repeatable study, it's one of the most shocking discoveries ever, if only because everyone who's ever waited on a dog to 'do it's business' has seen that twist every time. Of course it doesn't really answer 'why', but at least there seems to be a method to their madness.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 10 months ago | (#45851733)

Uh, dogs also poop at night. I don't the sun would be in their eyes at midnight.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45851759)

But if it was to do with the sun, they'd poop randomly at night. The effect due to the sun during day poops would still be evident.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 10 months ago | (#45852649)

Uh, dogs also poop at night. I don't the sun would be in their eyes at midnight.

You are assuming the researchers are watching at night.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (5, Informative)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | about 10 months ago | (#45851829)

I suspect the dogs just don't like staring into the sun then they poo. I'd also speculate that since streets and walls tend to be aligned with the cardinal directions there's an overall alignment augmentation due to their surroundings. finally if they like to poo in a shadow of a tree then likely they may face back to the tree and thus have a bias to north or south alignments.

Wait. That means that during the early hours they should be facing West and during the late hours they should be facing East. At high noon it doesn't matter what they do. There's no sun-related time that would put bias on North/South axis alignment and the data shows a bias against East/West alignment.

As for the assertion that the alignment of streets and walls are involved, I accidentally RTFA and found this curious line. "The magnetic consciousness was observed only in dogs off leash, in the middle of a field."

Better yet, there's variation in behaviour that reflected magnetic fluctuations.

So it turns out dogshit science isn't as easy as you thought.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (3, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#45851867)

My dog poops mostly facing east, but I believe that's because I always take him on walks at night along the same route, and there's a long straight easterly stretch close to the end of the route. Come to think of it, I don't remember ever seeing him poop facing north or south. Maybe he's broken.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (2)

istartedi (132515) | about 10 months ago | (#45852121)

TFA mentioned that the study was conducted off-leash in a field. The owner has more influence than the magnetic field.

Accidntally opressed "Redundant" to the most insig (0)

PaulBu (473180) | about 10 months ago | (#45852009)

Mod parent up! Informative, instead

Paul B.

Re:Accidntally opressed "Redundant" to the most in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852395)

Informative? It's speculation.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852095)

> since streets and walls tend to be aligned

Wow, that's Republican-level anti-science stupidity. From the study:

"The magnetic consciousness was observed only in dogs off leash, in the middle of a field."

The dogs were not on streets no matter how many lies you spout. I wish you people would stop trying to ruin with this site with your anti-science rants and with your attempts to make *everything* about politics. It's tiresome how you people do that.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852249)

I bet the data in this "study" was completely fabricated. It will not be replicated should another scientist attempt to verify it. Rarely does science attempt to verify a scientific claim. Scientists fabricate data all the time to justify their grants. So 20 years from now this shit study is going to be parroted as fact even though it was completely made up and nobody attempted to verify the claims.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (1)

ne0n (884282) | about 10 months ago | (#45852485)

My dog always poops while looking at the nearest human, often turning in mid-poop if strangers approach. I hope the researchers didn't inadvertently introduce bias by positioning or showing themselves in a way that changes dog toilet habits.

Can you write a grant application ? (4, Funny)

drnb (2434720) | about 10 months ago | (#45852631)

I wonder how many scientists who happen to own a dog are now writing grant applications.

Re:dogs deficate not staring into the sun (5, Interesting)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 10 months ago | (#45852645)

According to the paper, studies were conducted in an open field and there was reportedly no bias based on whether data was recorded e.g., in the morning or in the afternoon. Due to the local weather conditions most of the time the skies were cloudy. When there chanced to be magnetic storms during the day then the dogs' North-South preference disappeared. They did a fairly good of controlling for other factors. The alignment of the magnetic field gave the best correlation.

Seriously? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851447)

What the shit

I do the same. (4, Funny)

BitterOak (537666) | about 10 months ago | (#45851457)

I do the same, and I have a special rotating toilet in my house for that purpose.

Re:I do the same. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851569)

The Earth's magnetic field rotates in your house?

Re:I do the same. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about 10 months ago | (#45851653)

The magnetic north pole does move around.

Re:I do the same. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851917)

Unless your house is very close to it, I doubt it would make much of a difference. Wait, Santa, is that you?

Re:I do the same. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45851985)

Yeah, the rudder fell off

Re:I do the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851583)

Wouldn't it have been easier to just install the toilet oriented the right way?

Re:I do the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852359)

Speaking of toilet rotation,,,

Has anyone checked this research in the southern hemisphere?

Oh, and mates, hows the view from down under?

Dogs don't like sun in their eyes (0, Redundant)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 10 months ago | (#45851467)

Alternative explanation. Dogs face away from the sun while crapping.

Where is the raw data?

Re:Dogs don't like sun in their eyes (5, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 10 months ago | (#45851525)

Alternative explanation. Dogs face away from the sun while crapping.

Where is the raw data?

Annoyingly enough some of it is under the sole of my shoe.

Re:Dogs don't like sun in their eyes (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851723)

Alternative explanation. Dogs face away from the sun while crapping.

Where is the raw data?

Annoyingly enough some of it is under the sole of my shoe.

May Dog have mercy on your sole...

Re:Dogs don't like sun in their eyes (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 10 months ago | (#45851827)

You just won the Internet for the day sir. Excellent work!

Re:Dogs don't like sun in their eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852479)

All dogs go to heaven!

And bowel before the gates.

Re:Dogs don't like sun in their eyes (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45851925)

May Dog haev mercy on us dyslexic poople.
 

Re:Dogs don't like sun in their eyes (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45852549)

Alternative explanation. Dogs face away from the sun while crapping.

Where is the raw data?

Something about this experiment smells...

wtf ?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851477)

wtf can i say ?

im puzzled

Don't want to be blinded... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851487)

Maybe they just don't like the sun in their eyes.

Correlation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851495)

So which causes which?

My dog is broken... (4, Funny)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 10 months ago | (#45851503)

He defecates in random directions.

Re:My dog is broken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851639)

Hopefully not on the couch!

Re:My dog is broken... (5, Funny)

zlives (2009072) | about 10 months ago | (#45851641)

please have him subscribe to /. to get his shit straight...

Re:My dog is broken... (1)

knarfling (735361) | about 10 months ago | (#45851673)

Have to agree. I have a few dogs, and i have never noticed that any of them line up in one direction or another. All of them have faced different directions when pooping. I must have a bunch of broken dogs.

A more simple explanation, of course, is that there is an underground facility nearby that is wrecking havoc on the magnetic fields near my house.

Only way to be sure is to ask my dogs to carry a compass and keep a poop journal. "Iggy, if you can't write in the journal which direction you were facing when you pooped, can you at least scratch an arrow in the grass? "

Re:My dog is broken... (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45852575)

Any high power lines near your house? Ham radio?

Plus, it only works off-leash in a field.

I was thinking that this was a good reason to keep a dog with you if exploring uncharted territory though; not only can you use the excrement to find your way back, you can also take your bearings from it.

I wonder if this extends to other animals as well... for animals excreting patties or drops, it wouldn't be too useful, but for those excreting logs it could be a useful addition to moss and sun tracking :)

Re:My dog is broken... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 10 months ago | (#45851703)

So does mine. And so, I would conjecture, do all dogs.
Why do we insist on speculating that animals have all of these magical abilities, like the ability to tell which way is north, ability to tell when an earthquake is coming, ability to tell when a person has cancer, etc. Humans are animals too, and yet we can't do any of these things (without tools). Frankly, I think the people who say animals can do these things are just full of crap.

Re:My dog is broken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851821)

Magnetoreception [wikipedia.org] is a rather difference case considering it has been well demonstrated in many animals. The question of how present it is in mammals is still being investigated, but is not out of the question.

Re:My dog is broken... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 10 months ago | (#45851853)

Heh tell me about it. I was with my dogs when we had our last earthquake (7.2 on the Richter scale), and I was with them for most of the aftershocks. Absolutely zero "premonition", although they made it to the stairs a lot faster than I did. And of course for every little tremor after the big one they were nervous and jumpy as hell, but then again so was I. But yeah, babies are not suddenly dumber the second they are born (because these people also carry on about how SMART babies are in the uterus), and animals don't have magical abilities - only different abilities, some of which we don't completely understand.

Re:My dog is broken... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 10 months ago | (#45851961)

Why do we insist on speculating that animals have all of these magical abilities, like the ability to tell which way is north, ability to tell when an earthquake is coming, ability to tell when a person has cancer, etc. Humans are animals too, and yet we can't do any of these things (without tools). Frankly, I think the people who say animals can do these things are just full of crap.

Different species have different senses, and levels of senses. Your eyesight is much, much keener than a dog's, although not as good as an eagle's; your sense of smell is much better than the eagle's, but nowhere near as good as the dog's. And the way brains with very different structures process the information is different too. Is that really so difficult to believe?

Re:My dog is broken... (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 10 months ago | (#45852421)

Is that really so difficult to believe?

And, of course, we need good empirical evidence to help determine what we should be willing to believe about these things. Hence, we need studies like this. Otherwise, all we're able to do is speculate about what the senses (ours and other animals) are capable of.

Re:My dog is broken... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45852601)

Frankly, I think the people who say animals can do these things are just full of crap.

Unlike the dogs in the test, who have no problems voiding their bowels in the appropriate direction....

Interestingly, those other things you say animals can do, humans can do too, given enough sensory deprivation of the senses that aren't used for that purpose. Next thing you're going to tell me is that your dog can talk and actually posted that comment on slashdot... after all, humans are animals too, and can magically do these things.

Re:My dog is broken... (4, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about 10 months ago | (#45852633)

Why do we insist on speculating that animals have all of these magical abilities

This is the opposite - trying to work out more about senses instead of putting it all down to magic.

ability to tell when a person has cancer

They smell different and dogs are better at smelling than us. That's all it is. Sensors can be used instead of dogs now that it has been worked out what the dogs are smelling.

Frankly, I think the people who say animals can do these things are just full of crap.

Finding stuff in the dark looks like magic too until echo location is described.

Re:My dog is broken... (1)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | about 10 months ago | (#45851845)

He defecates in random directions.

Maybe it's been using Dual_EC_DRBG and the NSA hacked him?

Re:My dog is broken... (1)

MiniMike (234881) | about 10 months ago | (#45852415)

He may not be broken. Do you live at the magnetic North pole?

how many bits of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851553)

are in a dog poop?

If the deed is accurate to the nearest octant, that would be 3 bits for choice of one pole or 2 bits for choice of two poles.

I wonder if some breeds have more bits in their poop than others.

When I am lost in the forest (2)

malvcr (2932649) | about 10 months ago | (#45851619)

mmm ...

If I am in a tropical forest, and I can't see where is the sun because so many trees and every direction is "green", have no GPS neither a device with WIFI ... but have a dog.

I am saved :-) ... just I need to give the dog some food and to wait.

But they can't look up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851631)

Big Al says so.

I think my dog is broke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851633)

I think my dog is broke, can I return it and get a new one?

I never knew this was a bug with my model until I just read this.
I was assured that these models were bug-free!

Re:I think my dog is broke (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 10 months ago | (#45851879)

I usually use frontline [frontline.com] to get rid of the bugs my dogs may have.

soooo; (4, Interesting)

jafac (1449) | about 10 months ago | (#45851677)

they won't poop on a magnetized carpet?

Re:soooo; (4, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45852637)

they won't poop on a magnetized carpet?

Oscillate the field and you've at least got an exercise device.

"preferred" is the best they've got? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45851755)

Curious how strong the correlation is...the fact they don't report any quantitative results in their summary isn't very promising.

And cats still don't give a sh** (3, Insightful)

jslarve (1193417) | about 10 months ago | (#45851773)

They really don't.

Could it be that.. (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about 10 months ago | (#45851775)

The poo is magnetic and thus easier to get rid of if standing in the right direction because of the magnetic pull?
If true. Standing in the right orientation would also prevent it from being pushed the wrong way up into the palate.

Re:Could it be that.. (0)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45851955)

The poo is magnetic and thus...

No wonder Bender is always grumpy.

Patent Pending (2, Funny)

organgtool (966989) | about 10 months ago | (#45851819)

So stop dicking around already and put a dog in a Faraday cage to see if we can get a dog that doesn't poop!

Re:Patent Pending (4, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#45851881)

So stop dicking around already and put a dog in a Faraday cage to see if we can get a dog that doesn't poop!

They tried that. It worked for about a week.

Then, the dog exploded.

Re:Patent Pending (3, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 10 months ago | (#45852037)

So stop dicking around already and put a dog in a Faraday cage to see if we can get a dog that doesn't poop!

Faraday cage? If we put him in Schrödinger's box he'll poop and not poop simultaneously until you open the box and fix his state, or that of the poop.... or.... oh never mind.

Re:Patent Pending (1)

quanminoan (812306) | about 10 months ago | (#45852541)

A Faraday cage wouldn't stop static magnetic fields; you would need mu metal or superconducting materials to help decrease the magnetic field of earth.

Angling for an IgNobel? (1)

kwerle (39371) | about 10 months ago | (#45851947)

You have to wonder at stories like this - are the researchers actually angling for an IgNobel, or do they have some other motive?

Worst. Compass. Ever. (2)

Exsam (768226) | about 10 months ago | (#45851967)

Of all time.

Magnets (2)

suss (158993) | about 10 months ago | (#45852049)

Does that mean that if i put a bunch of Molybdenum magnets under the sidewalk, i could get the dogs confused enough to stop pooping there?

Or maybe the opposite effect...

Slow news day? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852077)

Must be nothing about the NSA today.

When Columbus lost his compass... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45852089)

...he said, "In Dog we trust".

Is this TheOnion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852161)

What about cats?

That's nothing (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 10 months ago | (#45852325)

That's nothing. When I defecate my bolus aligns with the magnetic field, arching and coiling...

good thing I hold patent (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 10 months ago | (#45852345)

my aviation canicraposcope has three pooping dogs mounted at right angles, unlike gyroscopic horizon it needs no electrical power supply, only Purina and prune juice.

Furry Crayon (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45852401)

I put a magnet on an RC toy car and got my dog to draw pictures on the lawn

Where? (1)

Maximus23 (896382) | about 10 months ago | (#45852409)

Where do they come up with funding for studies like this? Can I get some of this money? I could use it for my puppy who may need some surgery...

Dogs Shit North (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852411)

Instead of carrying a compass, just wait until your dog takes a dump.

Fridge mags (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45852433)

I thought the kids' pics on the fridge looked crappy. Time to use masking tape instead.

Next Study (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 10 months ago | (#45852467)

Putting magnets next to a dog's bed to see if he'll turn in fewer circles before lying down.

I can verify it with my dog (4, Interesting)

Chewbacon (797801) | about 10 months ago | (#45852583)

I take pictures of our dog pooping and send them to my wife has pranks. "Hey, look at what the baby's doing. :dog shitting picture:" So, I went through them and sure enough she's either facing north or south in the backyard pinching a loaf. She maybe off by a 10 degrees, but never east or west with the same margin.

which way are they facing, N or S? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45852669)

"the body being aligned along the North-south axis" - there are 2 ways to align the body that way. Which one do they prefer, if any?

Yet another horrible summary (5, Informative)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 10 months ago | (#45852697)

(A draft of) the actual research article is freely available here [frontiersinzoology.com] . Key points not mentioned in the summary:
* the researchers concluded the magnetic field was responsible after observing the dogs lost their directional bias on days with geomagnetic storms, which is pretty cool IMHO
* the researchers did explicitly discuss bias due to the direction of the sun, and the measures they took to eliminate it from their study.

All in all, their findings are not to be taken as gospel (as always with original research), but if confirmed, they could spark a hunt for underlying biochemical mechanism.

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