Centuries of folklore has led some people to believe the moon can influence the behavior of people and animals – is there any scientific proof to this? Science says: YES.
In this article we’ll explore both the myth and science behind full-moon based behavior.
Moon words: Luna, lunar, lunatic, lunacy
The Latin word for moon is Luna. In Roman mythology and religion, Luna is the name of the Moon Goddess.
Luna is where we derive the word lunar which means, determined by or resembling the moon. For example, the surface of the moon is referred to as a lunar landscape.
Because people in ancient times believed that the moon affected behavior, the word lunatic developed to describe abnormal behavior during a full moon. It also brought about the word lunacy to describe foolish or senseless behavior, and the word lunacy is also an obsolete term for legal insanity.
Full moon folklore
Over the course of history, many myths and superstitions have developed around the full moon. As previously mentioned, some ancient peoples believed in the idea of a lunar goddess, as well as other lunar deities including Artemis, Selene and Thoth.
By far, the biggest myth around the full moon is that it makes people go crazy. Full moons have been blamed for unusual behavior, craziness, sleepwalking, suicide, increased violence – and last but not least: Werewolves.
Some people believe that the full moon controls fertility and there may be some truth to that in both humans and animals, which we will discuss shortly.
Science says full moon does affect on human behavior
A survey taken in 1995 at the University of New Orleans found that 81 percent of mental health professionals believed in the power of the full moon to affect people’s minds – and they may be correct for thinking that way.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH) the lunar cycle does have an impact on human reproduction, in particular fertility, menstruation and birthrate. This is because melatonin levels appear to correlate with the menstrual cycle.
The NIH also says that moon phases contribute to an increase in admittance to hospitals and emergency units due to such causes as cardiovascular and acute coronary events, variceal hemorrhage, diarrhea, and urinary retention.
The effect of the full moon on animals, birds, insects and sea life
The effect of the full moon on animals is not a myth. Scientists and doctors have discovered and recorded changes in animal behavior that occur during a full moon.
According to the NIH, the lunar cycle may affect hormonal changes in insects. In fish, the lunar clock has an influence on reproduction. In birds, during full-moon days, daily variations in melatonin and corticosterone disappear. Additionally, deer and other herbivores in the wild will tend to ovulate at the full moon. In Australia’s great barrier reef, coral mate during the full moon. One animal behavior expert reported that hamsters spend markedly more aggressively on their wheels during the full moon.
China’s plans to launch an artificial moon as a way of reducing lighting and electrical costs at night have scientists concerned that the additional artificial lunar lighting could impact a variety of animal life in detrimental ways.