Why Do Dogs Walk in a Circle Before Lying Down?

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Getty Images

The circling thing is a relic of domestic dogs' wild past, a bit of hard-wired behavior that hasn't been bred out yet. Biologists and dog experts say that it might just be a strange quirk for domestic pooches, but for wild dogs and wolves, circling before hunkering down for the night was practical and sometimes even life-saving.

Dogs' ancestors traveled in packs and slept out in the open. Doggie beds were a few thousand years away, so a good way to get comfortable sleeping on the ground was to tramp down some grass and vegetation to make a "bed." Walking around in a tight circle a few times would mat down tall grass to sleep on and also disturb and kick up any bugs or snakes that might be lying in the dog's chosen spot.

There might be a social element to circling, too. Wolves and wild dogs often travel in packs and have strict social hierarchies. When they bed for the night, they sleep in a tight circle to protect each other stay warm. Circling might be a way of marking one's sleeping space and establishing a spot in the circle, the canine equivalent of calling first bedsies.

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Why Did Noon Used to Mean 3 p.m.?

3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
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If you’re a late sleeper, you might find yourself thinking 12 p.m. seems way too early to be considered midday, and the word noon would much better describe, say, 3 p.m. It turns out that ancient Romans would have agreed with you, if only for etymological reasons.

As Reader’s Digest explains, the days in ancient Rome were split into four periods of three hours each. The first hour was at sunrise around 6 a.m.—called prime, for first—followed by 9 a.m. (terce, denoting the third hour), 12 p.m. (sext, for sixth), and 3 p.m. (none, for ninth).

According to Merriam-Webster, Middle and Old English borrowed the time-keeping tradition, along with the Latin word for ninth, which was changed to nōn and eventually noon. Though we’re not sure exactly when or why noon started referring to 12 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., it could have something to do with Christian prayer traditions. In the Bible, Jesus’s crucifixion is said to have taken place at the ninth hour, and that’s when worshippers partook in their second of three daily prayers; the others were in the morning and evening. It’s possible that hungry monks were behind noon’s gradual shift from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m.—since their daily fast didn’t end until after the midday prayer, they had a built-in motive for moving it earlier.

While we didn’t exactly stay true to the original Latin meaning of noon, there’s another important remnant of ancient Rome hiding in the way we tell time today. Romans referred to 12 p.m. as meridiem, for midday, and so do we. A.M. is an abbreviation for ante meridiem, or before midday, and P.M. means post meridiem, or after midday.

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