Monday, September 11, 2006

Where on earth do birds get their incredible sense of direction? I'll give you a clue: not from me.

Scientists over in the good land of France (for more info, learn French, click here) have discovered that some light-sensitive macromolecules, called cryptochromes, apparantly allow birds to detect magnetic fields. The interesting thing is that the ability of the birds to sense magnetic fields depends on the presence of blue or green light. Other colors disrupt or weaken their ability to sense the fields.

These cryptochromes are present in other organisms, such as plants, and has been known to regulate growth and orientation in a wide variety of living things. They've been highly conserved throughout evolution, which means that more organisms than we think may have the ability to sense magnetic fields, even if they don't use it.


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