People have long blamed the moon for inspiring strange behavior in humans. But might Fido feel those same effects? The answer, it appears, depends on who you ask. Two studies published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reach rather different conclusions. In the first study, Chanchal Bhattacharjee and his colleagues identified 1,621 patients who had checked into an English hospital from 1997 to 1999 after being bitten by an animal (dogs inflicted 95 percent of the bites). They then compared the number of animal bites each day with the lunar phase in each month. Intriguingly, they found that the incidence of these animal bites more than doubled during a full moon. Simon Chapman and Stephen Morrell of the University of Sydney conducted the second study, which focused on dogs. They looked at 1,671 dog-bite-related hospital admissions from 1997 to 1998. But when they compared the admission dates with the full moon dates, they failed to find a pattern. In fact, of 18 peak days none coincided with a full moon, and the maximum peak occurred around the New Year. "More caution with dogs might be exercised over Christmas and especially at New Year," they write, "irrespective of the full moon."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Kate Wong is a senior editor for evolution and ecology at Scientific American.
Credit: Nick Higgins