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How do animals react to a total solar eclipse? American scientists intend to discover | Sciences

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A flamingo plucks its feathers at the Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, Friday, February 23, 2024. – Photo: AP/LM Otero

When a total solar eclipse turns day into night in North America, will turtles start hatching? Romantic act? Will the giraffes start it? enemy? And monkeys He will sing tuneless?

“What surprised us was that most of the animals did surprising things,” says Adam Hartston-Rose, the researcher at North Carolina State University who led the observations published in the journal Animals.

While there are many individual testimonies of creatures' strange behavior during eclipses throughout history, it is only in recent years that scientists have begun to study these creatures more closely. Changes in animal behavior Wild, domestic and in zoos.

Seven years ago, Galapagos tortoises at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, “Who normally do nothing at all all day (…) during the peak of the eclipse, they all started to give birth.”“, says Hartstone-Rose. The reason for this behavior has not yet been clarified.

A mandrill sits in its cage at the Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, Friday, February 23, 2024. – Photo: AP/LM Otero

A pair of Siamangs, the gibbons, who usually call each other in the morning, sang unusual songs during the eclipse that occurred in the afternoon. Some male giraffes started running with them “obvious concern”. Flamingos gathered around their chicks.

Researchers say many animals exhibit behaviors related to dusk.

In April, Hartstone-Rose's team plans to study similar species in Texas, to assess whether the behaviors they saw in South Carolina indicate broader patterns.

Several other zoos in the eclipse's path also invite visitors to help observe the animals, including the zoos in Little Rock, Arkansas; Toledo, Ohio; And Indianapolis.

“Expectations are very high. We have a very short observation period and cannot replicate the experiment,” says Jennifer Tsuruda, an entomologist at the University of Tennessee, who observed bee colonies during the 2017 eclipse.

The number of bees Tsuruda studied has declined Foraging activities during the eclipse It also usually happens at night, except for the hungriest hives.

“During a solar eclipse, there is a struggle between internal rhythms and the external environment,” says Olaf Rubel of the University of Alberta, adding that bees rely on polarized light from the sun to orient themselves.

Visitors to the Fort Worth Zoo watch a family of gorillas in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, Friday, February 23, 2024. – Photo: AP/LM Otero

“Solar eclipses are actually like short, fast-moving storms,” says Nate Bickford, an animal researcher at the Oregon Institute of Technology. When the sky gets dark and many animals seek shelter.

After the 2017 eclipse, he analyzed data from trackers previously deployed on wild species to study habitat use. Bald eagles change flight speed and direction during the eclipseAccording to him. So do wild horses, “perhaps in search of protection, in response to the possibility of a storm on the open plains.”

A lioness and her cub walk through their cage at the Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, Friday, February 23, 2024. – Photo: AP/LM Otero

Most songbird species migrate at night. “When there is a nocturnal environment during an eclipse, do birds think it is time to migrate and fly?” asks Andrew Farnsworth of Cornell University.

Your team intends to test this Hypothesis analysis of data from weather radars – which also detects the presence of flying birds, bats and insects – to see if there are more birds flying during the eclipse.

“Dogs and cats pay a lot of attention to us in addition to their internal clocks,” she says.

video: What is an eclipse?

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