Navigation Links
Homing pigeons get their bearings from their beaks

It has long been recognized that birds possess the ability to use the Earth’s magnetic field for their navigation, although just how this is done has not yet been clarified. However, the discovery of iron-containing structures in the beaks of homing pigeons in a new study (1) by Gerta Fleissner and her colleagues at the University of Frankfurt offers a promising insight into this complex topic. The article will be published online mid-March in Springer’s journal Naturwissenschaften.

In histological and physicochemical examinations in collaboration with HASYLAB, the synchrotron laboratories based in Hamburg, Germany, iron-containing subcellular particles of maghemite and magnetite were found in sensory dendrites² of the skin lining the upper beak of homing pigeons. This research project found that these dendrites are arranged in a complex three-dimensional pattern with different spatial orientation designed to analyze the three components of the magnetic field vector separately. They react to the Earth’s external magnetic field in a very sensitive and specific manner, thus acting as a three-axis magnetometer.

The study suggests that the birds sense the magnetic field independent of their motion and posture and thus can identify their geographical position.

The researchers further believe that this ability is not unique to homing pigeons as they expect that the ‘pigeon-type receptor system ?might turn out to be a universal feature of all birds? Equally, this concept might not only exclusively apply to birds, since it has been shown that many animals display behavior that is modified or controlled by the Earth’s magnetic field.

The meaning of these minute iron oxide crystals goes farther than their amazing ability to help pigeons home. Research into how they work has caught the interest of nanotechnologists concerning their potential application for accurate drug targeting and even as a data storage device. The main problem, however, lies in their synthetic production. According to Gerta Fleissner and her colleagues, "Even though birds have been producing these particles for millions of years, the main problem for scientists who want to find benefits from their use will be the technical production of these particles".
'"/>

Source:Springer


Related biology news :

1. Priming embryonic stem cells to fulfill their promise
2. Protein offers way to stop microscopic parasites in their tracks
3. Flocking together: Study shows how animal groups find their way
4. Where bacteria get their genes
5. Chickadees can help humans get their bearings
6. Bacteria use hosts immune response to their competitive advantage
7. Structures of marine toxins provide insight into their effectiveness as cancer drugs
8. Beauty queens urge girls not to sacrifice their bones
9. Researchers learn how blood vessel cells cope with their pressure-packed job
10. Stem cells electric abilities might help their safe clinical use
11. Multiple genes permit closely related fish species to mix and match their color vision

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:11/14/2016)... CLARA, Calif. , Nov. 14, 2016 ... the biometric identification market, Frost & Sullivan ... Frost & Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation ... player in the biometric identification market by ... multi-modal verification solution for instant, seamless, and ...
(Date:6/21/2016)... , June 21, 2016 NuData ... the new role of principal product architect and ... the director of customer development. Both will report ... technical officer. The moves reflect NuData,s strategic growth ... response to high customer demand and customer focus ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... -- Paris Police Prefecture ... to ensure the safety of people and operations in several ... tournament Teleste, an international technology group specialised in ... that its video security solution will be utilised by ... safety across the country. The system roll-out is scheduled for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... , ... December 01, 2016 , ... ... tube systems for North American hospitals, will present its chain-of-custody solution for tracking ... Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nev., Dec. 4-8, 2016. , Aerocom has a proven ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 02, 2016 , ... ... and biotechnology companies dedicated to collaboratively developing improved chemistry, manufacturing and control ... vendor-supported, portable online UHPLC, with robust, probe-based sampling. , Online liquid ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... BEI ... Coil Actuator with a flexure design that ensures high alignment accuracy by preventing ... and is ideally suited where extreme precision is required, such as in medical ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016  The Allen ... Cell Collection: the first publicly available collection of ... cells that target key cellular structures with unprecedented ... Research, these powerful tools are a crucial first ... to better understand what makes human cells healthy ...
Breaking Biology Technology: