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:4/26/2016)... India and LONDON ... Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product ... and Onegini today announced a partnership to integrate ... solutions.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ... to provide their customers enhanced security to access ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016 Research ... Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market is ... during the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis ... can be used to compute factors that are ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of ... the Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines that use the ... of the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics ... development and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class ... Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting ... significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a ... ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its ... in New York City . ... students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during ... , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today ... trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The ... ascending dose studies designed to assess the safety, ... injection in healthy adult volunteers. Forty ... a single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) ...
Breaking Biology Technology: