Well, not really. But they can sense the Earth’s magnetic field. Recent studies of Google Earth’s satellite imagery shows that two out of three animals in the photographs were grazing or resting with their bodies in a north-south direction. In a recent Los Angeles Times article it was noted that similar results were found in red and roe deer in the Czech Republic were reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It’s common knowledge among researchers that birds, fish rodents, and whales have magnetite in their brains that act as a compass. These results are the first to indicate that land based mammals have the same ability. Bats, bees, birds and whales use their magnetic sense for navigation. But cows? Quite possibly it’s used to help to help them find their way home or may no longer have a purpose within the species.
While researchers don’t have a practical purpose for this information, they believe it’s a great use of Google Earth’s satellite imagery. It’s a study that researchers couldn’t have done five years ago. With Google Earth’s technology there could be even more unique research studies completed in the near future.