Science produces numerous myths and legends that linger in the back of our minds, passed onto generation to generation without any clarification. These scientific myths deal with many different subjects, such as animal predictions, yawning, as well as a myth concerning body parts after death.
When it comes to animals, we look to them for a variety of reasons, whether it is for companionship or security. Some believe out four-legged friends can predict when a natural disaster is approaching. There is no definite evidence to support this theory. There have been no direct links between animals and a sixth sense, which allows them to know when a flood, tornado or hurricane will hit. They do, however, possess a strong sense of smell, hearing, as well as other instincts, which give them a heads up on a storm or any other weather change. This is why your cat or dog may act skittish before a thunderstorm arrives. They are able to hear and smell it coming before our human senses are able to pick it up. Thinking about natural disasters in the past, why is it that so many animals tend to die during these storms, hurricanes or floods? It is because they do not possess the “gift” of knowing when one is coming in time to avoid any harm.
This isn’t to say that animals are not able to save lives. There have been many cases of animals using their keen sense of smell and hearing to uncover victims of landslides and avalanches, as well as alerting their owners to fires within the house or intruders, giving them enough time to evacuate. They also possess the ability to sense when something is not completely correct with their owners, such as when they suffer a stroke, heart attack or other health affliction, racing to get help from others.
While we are on the subject of animals, we have heard that cats possess nine lives, which is not true, but there is also a belief that falling cats will always land on all four feet. When falling from most heights, cats are able to land on their feet without any trouble. During various studies, it was shown that cats dropped upside-down from a height of more than 1-2 feet causes varied results, depending on the age of the cat, as well as their weight. Not all cats land on all fours.
Is yawning contagious? Let’s just say, there is something about yawning that is physiologically ingrained to make us copy the act of another. Seeing or hearing a yawn could cause one to mimic the act. Studies involving chimpanzees have dealt with this common and popular myth. Some believe that when one passes, hair and fingernails will continue to grow. When the body dies, so do all the life functions, including growth. This myth originating from the illusion of growing hair and fingernails caused by severe dehydration to the body, which causes the skin to retract, exposing more nail and hair.