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:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 No two people are ... the New York University Tandon School of Engineering ... found that partial similarities between prints are common ... mobile phones and other electronic devices can be ... vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based authentication ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator ... of the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified ... architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises ... over 15 million users across the financial services industry, ... product suites and physical access represent a growing portion ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com ... Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... will focus on developing health and wellness apps that ... Hack the Genome is the first hackathon for ... world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech and health ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Proscia ... be hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” ... pathology adoption best practices and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Georgia (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing ... taking the lives of over 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in ... greenovative startup Treepex - based in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... DIEGO, CALIF. (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... as part of its corporate rebranding initiative announced today. The bold new look ... its reach, as the company moves into a significant growth period. , It will ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO of VetStem Biopharma, Inc. spent ... entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative Powers,” was held on August 31st, 2017 ... joined by two human doctors: Peter B. Hanson, M.D., Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Grossmont ...
Breaking Biology Technology: