Making the rounds of the blog sphere this week is a report that dogs tend to line up on Earth’s magnetic north-south axis when doing their bodily necessities. Stranger yet, as a LiveScience article points out, the north-south pattern isn’t limited to canine excrement, but a variety of animal patterns:
A 2008 analysis of Google Earth satellite images revealed that herds of cattle worldwide tend to stand in the north-south direction of Earth’s magnetic lines when grazing, regardless of wind direction or time of day. The same behavior was seen in two different species of deer.
The article references a 2013 report that implicates iron deposits in certain animals’ inner ears. The cause, it seems, is still unknown. Though for birds, bats, and other animals that depend on geo-location for navigation, the necessity is more apparent. So, maybe dogs and cows might be presenting an evolutionary artifact; if it seems odd, the next time you see Fido doing his business to the south, just think of your appendix.