Rumble in the jungle: can wild animals help us predict earthquakes?

Story highlights

  • Scientists believe animals could hold the key to an earthquake early warning system
  • A study has for the first time documented changes in wild animal behavior ahead of a major seismic event

(CNN)Rats deserting a city before a devastating earthquake may be the stuff of folklore, but scientists believe that animals really could hold the key to a quake early warning system.

Reports of pets vanishing or wildlife disappearing ahead of large earthquakes had previously been anecdotal, but an international study has for the first time documented changes in wild animal behavior before a seismic event.

Motion-triggered cameras

    Using motion-triggered cameras located in the Yanachaga National Park in Peru, scientists found significant changes in animal behavior more than three weeks before a magnitude 7 earthquake struck the region in 2011.
    On a typical day the cameras recorded 5 to 15 animal sightings, but within the 23-day period in the run-up to the earthquake, they recorded five or fewer sightings.