Many animals are a beast to navigate

Many migratory birds and migratory fish utilize their precise magnetic senses during their travels.

“The bigger the fish, the better its sense of direction works. The fish itself is a bit like a compass, as there is a light tension between its head and tail, which steers it in the right direction, ”the researcher Ari Saura The Natural Resources Center notes.

What would it be like to have an accurate compass inside your body? In the body, the magnetic sense might feel like a slight tingling in the south and north directions, and accordingly would make the mind turn.

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Two types of magnetic sensors have been found in birds. Most modifiers have at least retinal cryptochrome pigment in the eye. It detects the direction of magnetic fields. In addition, magnetic crystals have been found in the area of ​​their head. They react to the Earth’s magnetic poles.

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With the arrival of autumn, the Earth’s magnetic forces may begin to draw more clearly into the field of view of migratory birds. A slight itching begins to be felt in the chest, pulling towards the south. Migration is triggered by a shortening of the day, but it can also be affected by the seasonal variation of the magnetic senses.

A strong storm can mess up a bird’s migration route for up to thousands of miles. Then the bird must be able to change direction in order to reach its destination. This does not require mere navigation skills, but complex navigation.

Also in some mammals, the sense of sight may change with the seasons. Reindeer vision is focused a thousandfold in camouflage, said researchers at the universities of Tromsø and University College London in 2013.

As the season changes, the golden yellow summer eye gradually turns deep blue and night vision intensifies significantly. The reindeer has clearly adapted to life in the north. It is able to accurately detect approaching beasts and navigate in the dark. Reindeer also emit ultraviolet light, which helps them see, for example, urine marks, parts of predator fur and lichen, which is their main food in winter.

Read the full article Science in Nature 6/2021.

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