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Earlier we wrote that everyone in California should get a pet mouse, so they'll be warned when another earthquake is on the way. Now Japanese researchers say dogs may also be able to predict earthquakes, and scientists there do seem to have predicted the big quake that hit last week.

Kiyoshi Shimamura says that he began noticing an increase in dog bites and other complaints about dogs shortly before earthquakes hit. He examined the records of 12 public health centers in the parts of Japan that were struck by the 1995 Kobe quake that killed 6,000 people.

He found that reports of dogs barking excessively, biting and displaying other unusual behavior increased 18% in the two months before and after the 7.2 quake. Records at three centers on Awaji Island, which was right above the quake's epicenter, showed a 60% percent increase in dog complaints in the month before the earthquake. Shimamura says, "The results, which were collected from a wide range of data, can be linked to earthquake prediction."

Keay Davidson writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that six months ago, Japanese scientists forecast the huge earthquake that recently hit Japan. Japanese scientists estimated a 60% probability of an 8.1 magnitude quake would hit the island of Hokkaido. A quake measuring 8.0 magnitude hit Thursday within the 100 mile area where it was predicted. "This is the bull's-eye," says USGS geophysicist Ross Stein. "This is a direct hit?I would say that without any qualification. I think we need to say that this looks like a very successful forecast."

Japanese geologist Shinji Toda says, "This was a successful forecast in terms of long-term forecasting?It's a little early to say we can forecast (all) earthquakes, but this is good progress." But Stein says, "Bear in mind that?you cannot prove that either they were right or wrong by the occurrence of one forecast. It's very much like playing poker, where you don't win in one hand. You win by making slightly better bets than the other people around the table all night long."

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