Pigeon navigation finding called off-course

Biological ‘sensor’ in beaks may instead be immune system cells

5:21pm, April 11, 2012

Scientists may have been going in the wrong direction to find bird beaks’ built-in navigation sensors, says a provocative new study.

Pigeons and other birds appear to use the Earth’s magnetic field, along with sights and sounds, to figure out where they’re flying. But the widely accepted identification of one set of magnetically sensitive cells is “totally wrong,” says neuroscientist David Keays of the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna.

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