Only after thousands of years has anyone noticed that cattle align north-south:
The researchers surveyed Google Earth images of 8,510 grazing and resting cattle in 308 pasture plains across the globe.
“Sometimes it took hours and hours to find some pictures with good resolution,” said Dr Begall.
The scientists were unable to distinguish between the head and rear of the cattle, but could tell that the animals tended to face either north or south.
Their study ruled out the possibility that the Sun position or wind direction were major influences on the orientation of the cattle.
Dr Begall said: “In Africa and South America, the cattle (were) shifted slightly to a more north-eastern-south-western direction.
“But it is known that the Earth’s magnetic field is much weaker there,” she explained.
The researchers also recorded the body positions of 2,974 wild deer in 277 locations across the Czech Republic.
Their fieldwork revealed that the majority of grazing and resting deer face northward. About one-third of the deer faced southward.
“That might be some kind of anti-predatory behaviour,” speculated Dr Begall.
I’m guessing the accompanying image was taken in Scotland? Because the cattle seem to be facing directly into the sun, which wouldn’t be almost directly north or south in most cattle country.