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Animals Studied As Quake Predictors
TOKYO (AP) FEBRUARY 22, 2000 — Chinese and Japanese scientists exchanged views Tuesday on the possibilities of using animal behavior to predict earthquakes.

Yoshihiro Hayashi, a professor of veterinary science at Tokyo University who helped organized the seminar, acknowledged that the conventional scientific wisdom is that earthquakes can't be predicted.

He added that the question of whether animal behavior can be used to foretell quakes is almost impossible to prove scientifically, and such findings may even do more harm than good by setting off panic if publicized prematurely.

``But it is an interesting possibility. Animals have evolved to avoid dangers,'' Hayashi said in a telephone interview.

Zheng Guorong, vice director of the earthquake department in Tangshan in Hebei Province in northern China, presented findings about fish that jumped out of the water as well as moles, bugs and hibernating animals popping out from the ground right before an earthquake.

Zheng and another Chinese researcher, Wang Anbin, told the gathering that they were able to use animal behavior along with other observed natural changes to predict several earthquakes in China.

A handful of Japanese scientists are also carrying out studies on how animals act before earthquakes. Mitsuaki Ota, a professor at Azabu University who has done research with dogs, also attended the seminar.

Earlier in the week, the Chinese scientists gave a similar presentation in Kobe, the city devastated by a quake that killed more than 6,000 people in 1995.

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