Tag: magnetic sensing

Those Magnetic Neurons Birds Use to Steer? They're Not Neurons, and Aren't For Steering.

By Veronique Greenwood | April 12, 2012 2:53 pm

pidgie

What’s the News: One of the leading theories explaining why birds can travel thousands of miles each year without getting lost is that they are equipped with an internal compass on their beaks: iron crystals in cells there could be orienting to the Earth’s magnetic field, sending a message to their brains that helps them steer.

It turns out, though, that those beak cells, which had been previously identified as neurons capable of sending such a message, aren’t neurons at all. A new study shows convincingly that those iron-bearing cells are macrophages, immune cells that could never play that role. Birds’ magnetic navigation skills must be coming from somewhere else.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
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