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***WARNING: CONTAINS A QUITE FRANKLY EXCESSIVE AMOUNT OF PHOTOS OF DOGS POOING***
As a human, there are few factors that influence where we poo. Typically, we'll opt for a toilet - though not one that has a faulty flush, a dodgy lock or a p**s-covered seat.
For dogs though, there appears to be more complicated considerations at play.
Sure, they'll dump in plain sight in locations that us humans would consider suboptimal, but have you ever noticed how they often partake in a seemingly aimless pre-crap ritual?
Our beloved pooches seem to insist on meandering around in circles, sniffing, squatting, digging and clenching before eventually depositing their bum Toblerone.
Well, it turns out there may be a whole lot more to this plop placement than you might have thought.
According to a 2013 study, dogs are actually influenced by the Earth's magnetic field.
The research, published in Frontiers in Zoology, involved examining the urinations and defecations of 70 dogs across two years - because why else would you get into science?
Analysing the data extracted from 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations, they found that dogs preferred to 'excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis'.
Indeed, after ruling out things like wind and the angle of the sun, the Earth's magnetic field was found to be the only factor that influenced their excretion orientation.
The study concluded: "Dogs preferred to excrete with the body being aligned along the North–South axis under calm MF (magnetic field) conditions.
"This directional behaviour was abolished under unstable MF. The best predictor of the behavioural switch was the rate of change in declination, i.e., polar orientation of the MF.
"It is for the first time that (a) magnetic sensitivity was proved in dogs, (b) a measurable, predictable
behavioural reaction upon natural MF fluctuations could be unambiguously proven in a mammal, and (c) high sensitivity to small changes in polarity, rather than in intensity, of MF was identified as biologically meaningful.
"Our findings open new horizons in magnetoreception research."
This of course begs the question - why do dogs seemingly prefer to crap along the north-south axis?
Unfortunately though, an explanation was beyond the bounds of the study.
The authors wrote: "It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it 'consciously' (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (the dogs 'see', 'hear' or smell' the compass direction or perceive it as a haptic stimulus) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they 'feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable' in a certain direction)."
You know what, perhaps it's time we stop speculating and see for ourselves. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a s**t along the north-south axis and see what all the fuss is about.