FEB 27, 2016 12:35 PM PST

Some Dogs and Primates Can Sense Magnetic Fields

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

What if we told you dogs and even come primates have the ability to see, yes see, magnetic fields?
 
New research having been published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that dogs and even some primates, such as orangutans, have special proteins in their eyes capable of seeing magnetic fields, which help them in their sense of direction.
 
For example, this ‘sixth sense’ is relatively useful for helping certain animals in figuring their altitude, direction, and even their location. It’s known more commonly as magnetoreception.
 
Many other animals are also known to have this sense, such as dogs and sharks among other animals. It’s used in migration and other forms of perception of change in the Earth’s ever-changing environment.
 
Researchers involved in the study closely examined the retinas of more than 90 mammalian species, and in the cones of some animals, such as dogs, cryptochrome Cry1a molecules were discovered – the molecule responsible for this sixth sense.  
 

Cryptochrome molecules were found in the retinas of many different mammals.


Although it’s not particularly known what animals like dogs and some primates use this ability for, one could only assume it has something to do with survival and predatory characteristics in these animals. Depending on the type of animal, it may be used for hunting, migration, or even general orientation perception.
 
Other research suggests that many dog-like mammals, such as bears, wolves, badgers, and foxes also had the cryptochrome molecule in their eyes, but notably, feline-style mammals, such as house cats, tigers, and lions did not.
 
The new strides in research suggest more animals than originally thought may have access to a new dimension of perception that we haven't even begun to understand.

Source: Nature

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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