Author - ELB
Animals are known for their amazing senses. Dogs have great hearing. Cats can see in the dark. Elephants can smell for miles, and whales can talk with echolocation. But how far can these senses peer into the dark side of humanity? Stories abound of animals sensing ghosts or spirits. Is there any proof to these myths?
There are many reports of animals having senses that go far beyond human interpretation. For example, in 2004, a series of Tsunami’s hit India and the surrounding islands. Thousands were killed and many more were made homeless. But very few animal carcasses were found. In fact, there are dozens of reports of animals, like dogs, oxen, donkeys, sheep, goats, cats, monkeys, birds and reptiles, running inland and to high ground. Faithful pets ran away from home. And one animal in particular may have made a difference.
People taking tours of the town on elephant back were shocked and terrified when all the areas, elephants stampeded to high ground, ignoring their mahouts (masters). These people were lucky. By staying on the elephants back, they were hoisted to safety.
These reports support animals having the ability to percept vibrations, not ghosts. But it does support the basic idea that animals have abilities that can come to light in strange ways.
Other stories are much more common. Stories of animals sensing their owner about to die and reacting. Some pets run away to find help, others stay and comfort their owners. In fact, one specific hospital has a dog that can apparently sense incoming death. They use the dog to indicate who might die. He hasn’t been wrong yet.
While being able to sense vibrations from earthquakes; which cause tsunamis, is easily explainable, sensing death is a very different thing. Pets have been reported sensing death from cancer, seizures, heart problems, asphyxiation and burning, drowning, choking, and even battery. All these forms of death are very different, and pets ranging from dogs, cats, horses, parrots, and even a story of a ferret. It seems impossible to pin down a certain give that these animals can detect.
So the main question here, ignoring that obvious “Do ghosts exist?” question, is can animals sense ghosts?
We know humans can’t detect ghosts without expensive equipment. Things like heat detectors and self-made detectors. So why can’t we detect ghosts, but animals can?
We know animals have amazing senses. But what sense lets them detect paranormal activity? Let’s start with the obvious. Sight. Birds of prey have some of the best sight in the entire animal kingdom, with vision comparable to the highest powered binoculars. Hawks and eagles rule in daytime vision, while owls rule the night. In fact, Kestrels, a type of falcon, can see ultraviolet light. Cats are another animal with great night vision, able to see several times better than humans.
But humans can’t see ghosts at all, not even a bit. So maybe there’s something else to it. Smell, perhaps. Dogs can track humans over miles, so perhaps they can detect a ghost’s scent. Elephants and pigs have comparable, if not better smell than dogs. Turkey vultures have the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom, and use it find carrion dozens, if not hundreds of miles away. Underwater, sharks can detect a drop of fish blood in 100 gallons of water, and can track wounded prey over long distances.
Though as with sight, most human/ghost interactions don’t involve any sort of smell. Maybe hearing has something to do with it. Sometimes ghosts interfere with radio signals, so maybe they produce a sound. Dogs and elephants, as well as having good smelling powers, also have incredible hearing. And owls, known for night vision, have the best sense of hearing in the animal kingdom.
If smell doesn’t work, what else is there? Taste is out, and with it touch, as ghosts being intangible makes them immune to both in all cases. That’s all the senses, so let’s… wait, what? There are more?!?
Sixth senses, as they are so affectionately called, are common in the animal kingdom. Let’s start with the most well-known, echolocation. Echolocation is similar to human made sonar and radar. Sound waves, or clicks, are sent from an object, and the time it takes to hear the echo measures how far away the object it bounced off of is. Dolphins, whales, and bats all possess this ability.
Another sixth sense is electromagnetism, and is a power owned by a single family of animals. Sharks and rays. Nodes on and in their snouts allow them to sense the electromagnetic signal that the heartbeat creates, allowing them to know the location of these animals. Ghosts are said to mess with compasses, which have magnets.
Temperature sensing seems farfetched, but there are two animals that excel at it. Ladybugs are famous for their uncanny ability to predict the weather. Unlike there mythical equal, the groundhog, ladybugs have been 90% accurate when predicting how soon winter will come, always ready to hibernate. The other, more useful temperature sensing animal is the snake, specifically, the rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are called pit vipers, because of the small pits on their head. It has been tested, quite recently even, that rattlesnakes and their relatives can see heat, even in complete darkness.
So with these senses, can animals detect ghosts? An experiment would have to take place.
Firstly, the location. A haunted house with lots of non-human caused paranormal activity, perhaps tested by one of those SyFy ghost hunters. For the purposes of this experiment, a haunted shipwreck would also be required.
Now the hard part. What animals should be used for the experiment? Here is a list of some of the best mentioned candidates.
Great Horned Owl: Chosen for it’s incredible night vision and possibly the best sense of hearing on the planet.
Turkey Vulture: Known for having the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom. Also has decent vision.
American kestrel: Good sight and hearing, along with being able to see ultraviolet light.
Asian/African Elephant: Both species have both great hearing and an impeccable sense of smell. Both are also very intelligent.
Domestic Pig: Has a better sense of smell than a dog, and is a farily intelligent animal.
Domestic Dog: Great senses of smell and hearing, and is closer to humans than any other animal. Dogs have been known to sense ghosts for centuries.
Domestic Cat: Excellent sense of night vision and hearing. Cats are also close to humans. Their whiskers also can sense objects when very close.
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark: A common shark at aquariums, this species of hammerhead has the ability of electromagnetism.
Bottlenose Dolphin: The most intelligent non-human animal, bottlenose dolphins also have echolocation.
Little Brown Bat: Bats have average sight, good hearing, and are the only land animal that has echolocation
Ladybug: Ladybugs can predict weather fairly accurately. This may not help, but it is a unique ability.
Diamondback Rattlesnake: Along with all pit vipers and most snakes, rattlesnakes can sense heat quite accurately, even using it to navigate in complete darkness.
All these animals have a trait or multiple traits that may let them detect ghosts. Note that specific species were used. Other species or subspecies would most likely work, but these are the examples of the best. Obviously, some animals would be hard to get access to, and even harder to get to a known haunted location. Large cages or tanks would be needed to contain the animal in the specific location. Easier said than done with some of these critters.
Also, note if there are any animals living in the haunted location. They may be able to shed light of the subject these animals can’t.
Other things would need to be proven and taken into consideration first. Do ghosts exist? Can ghosts possess animals? (That one would make using the elephant and ocean animals very dangerous). If the animals do sense the ghosts, how will they react? How will the ghosts react? Will they be able to communicate?
As with all questions, the answer to this one just makes more. But if ghosts did exist, animals may be our key to learning their secrets.