Paul the Octopus went eight for eight in picking the outcomes of games in the recent World Cup of soccer.  This was certainly a coincidence.  However, it opens the door to a question: Do some animals have a sensing ability that we do not understand?  A variety of animals seemed to have known that the 2004 tsunami was going to hit Sri Lanka and India well before it became apparent to humans.  They evacuated the catastrophe areas before the tsunami hit. 150,000 humans were not so wise.  They were killed by it.  Were the animals using a sixth sense that we have yet to explain?


Tags: Animals, Jubinsky, Octopus, Paul, Senses

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I'd say there's a difference between perceiving the signs of a natural phenomenon - remember that tsunamis are caused by seismic activity or underwater explosions that are constantly detected by other animal species before we humans do - and foreseeing soccer victories. Sixth sense is a bit of a misnomer, in that there's a great variety of different senses in nature - some keener than others - that humans simply don't possess. Many animal species can detect variations in magnetic fields through specially adapted photoreceptors. Countless others have a sense of smell far keener than that of any human, allowing them to detect concentrations of molecules far lower than we possibly could. There is nothing paranormal in all this.

Sports forecast, however, are an entirely different matter. Supposing that an octopus have any knowledge of football or be able to tell the future is pushing it a tad too far. It's far more likely that there be fundamental underlying biases.
I'm not talking about anything paranormal. I'm talking about such things as detecting magnetic fields as you say some are able to do. I had a dog once that got lost in a park it had never been in many miles from where we were living. On its own the dog found its way home. I have heard of cases where dogs traveled hundreds of miles to find their ways home.
Well we know many animals have senses to detect electricity (like sharks) or magnetic fields (like birds)...so in that sense yes they have more senses than us.
They probably can detect differences in water pressure but that doesn't account for schooling behaviour. Schooling behaviour, flocking behaviour, herding behaviour and insect swarming is based on inter group spacing. It's actually quite simple in execution but looks amazing as though there was a "group mind" operating - which of course there isn't..
In laboratory experiments the lateral lines of schooling fish have been removed. They swam closer, leading to a theory that the lateral lines provide additional stimuli input when the fish get too closeT
The behaviour (schooling, herding etc) is controlled by the proximity of others so the structures (lateral lines) would very much be a part of that behavior
Calling it paranormal sounds about like "it's magic if you don't understand it". I am wondering how long this octopus's lucky streak is.
Was that the horse that stomped its hooves to indicate something? And then later it was discovered that the person was telling it what to do?
Aristotle suggesting that sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell were the five sense was ill-reasoned.
Pretty much every thing Aristotle postulated was wrong and, in truth, probably derailed science in many cases, his reputation, however, carried the day and disputing him was close to heresy.
The senses are not so clearly differentiated and the neurons responsible serve multiple purpose. for example balance, body position and muscle stress awareness are all served by proprioceptor neurons, taste and smell by chemoreceptors. Thermoreceptors can't measure absolute temperature what they do is detect changes in temperature.
[a simple experiment will demonstrate: take three water glasses fill one with hot water, one with cold water and one with lukewarm water. Put one finger in the hot water and one in the cold (fingers on the same hand) and keep them there for about 15 secs. then put both fingers in the lukewarm water and, as your high school science teacher told you, record your observations]
What we perceive is not a "6th sense" or an extra sense in animals but rather an enhanced sense which is usually realized by a higher density and more of one or more receptors. Dogs have more densely packed chemoreceptors in their nose, Raptor birds more photoreceptor, snakes more thermoreceptors and etc. That they perceive things that we can't is obvious but it's not some woo woo sense connecting them to the cosmos or some equivalent bullshit.
I'm not talking about woowoo. I'm talking about some kind of instinct or sensing ability associated with their environment. I really did have a dog that I took to a wooded park at least 20 miles away from where we lived. We went there by car and he had never been anywhere near the park. He went on an adventure and I couldn't find him. I finally left without him. Three days later he was in the back yard when I came home from work. A neighbor had put him there after seeing him sitting at the front door of my house that day.

Paul certainly was lucky or maybe the whole thing was a prank. However, it seems that too many of the animals in Sri Lanka and India that were in harms way of the tsunami evacuated for the evacuation to have happened randomly and I don't see why the event would have been misreported. The question is, baring ridiculous coincidence or bad reporting, how might they have known that the tsunami was coming?
I hate to quote myself but "[...]remember that tsunamis are caused by seismic activity or underwater explosions that are constantly detected by other animal species before we humans do[...]." It wasn't random at all, the animals reacted exactly as expected.

As for dogs, they have an excellent sense of smell coupled with formidable sense of direction.
This suggests that they reasoned a tsunami was going to hit them due to seismic activity that occurred a long distance off.
Not necessarily, animals might simply flee in the direction opposite to that of the perceived seismic epicentre to a distance where they can no longer detect seismic activity. I'm not excluding the possibility of many animal species having an understanding - however rudimentary - of causal relationships, but I wouldn't take it for granted either.

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