Researchers have made a surprising new discovery in one of the lesser-discussed realms of animal behavior: how they position themselves to poop.
According to a study published in Frontiers in Zoology, scientists found order in the seemingly random manner with which canines do their business. After observing 70 dogs of various breeds defecating and urinating a 7,475 times over the course of two years, the team found a remarkable correlation between how the animals positioned themselves and the direction of the Earth's magnetic field.
"Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North-south axis under calm magnetic field conditions," concludes the study, adding that they nearly always avoided an east-west alignment.
While the origin of this behavior is unclear, researchers say that it provides evidence that mammals are sensitive to the planet's magnetic field, a sensitivity previously only recorded in migrating animals, like birds, fish and turtles.