New York

In Case of Earthquake, Follow That Toad


Something no one ever brings up at cocktail parties is the fact that Manhattan has its fair share of earthquake faults. In 1737 and 1884, the city experienced minor quakes that knocked down chimneys and generated palpable shocks. Scientists say that the “juxtaposition of geological extremes” (i.e., soft sediment over hard rock) in Manhattan “bodes ominously,” and that while the “generally well-designed towers in Manhattan’s skyline most likely would survive a 6.0,” the rest of us in pre-war buildings would be up the creek without a paddle, or down the ravine, or whatnot.

Not quite ready to take it to the ‘burbs, where things are far more frightening than a little old earthquake anyway? Not to worry. The AP reports today that British researchers “observed a mass exodus of toads from a breeding site in Italy five days before a major tremor struck, suggesting the amphibians may be able to sense environmental changes, imperceptible to humans, that foretell a coming quake.”

How biblical! Now, we’ve never seen a toad in Manhattan ourselves (jokes aside), but suffice it to say, if we’re making our morning java run and a slew of amphibians pass our way in a hurry, we’d like a plus one.

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