Published on April 26th, 2012 | by James Johnson0
Pigeons Have Built-In Biological GPS Systems
Have you ever wondered how carrier pigeons are able to so easily find their way to and from locations without a Google Maps program attached to their little bodies? Two researchers were trying to figure that out and recently published a study in Nature which basically explains that the pigeons use the Earth’s magnetic field to find their way around (an already known theory), then memorize different magnetic points and basically use Earth as a giant built-in GPS system.
The study is the first to posit that a pigeons brain processes the information it receives as brain signals come from the inner year with receptors in their beaks and eyes also passing along information.
One of the study’s co-authors at Baylor College of Medicine tells Discovery News:
“We have found cells in the (pigeon) brain that signal the direction, intensity and polarity of an applied magnetic field.”
The researcher also notes:
“These three qualities can be used by the brain to compute heading information, like a compass, and latitude on the Earth surface.”
While far from a complete analysis of a pigeons GPS capabilities a researcher not involved in the project says it is “the most thorough investigation of the magnetic sense so far.”
Would you like to have a built-in GPS or like me do you get lost in the ghetto every single time you head to a new city?