Animal navigation By claire macqueen - 6r

What is navigation?

Navigation is being able to find your way and have a sense of where you are and where you are going. Humans navigate by using compasses and other tools like them to help us get to where we want to be. Scientists have come to believe that compasses were invented in the first century in China. Animals, however, have many different ways to navigation the earths surface than us. Animals have many different methods but I will be talking about Magneto reception and Crypto chromes.

Magneto taxis.

Magneto taxis are found in bacteria called magneto tactic bacteria. They can orient or arrange themselves based off of the earths magnetic field. This process is called magneto taxis.

How do animals navigate?

There are two main hypotheses about how animals can orientate themselves based of the Earth's magnetic field. One is called Crypto chromes. This theory states that Crypto chromes, when they come into contact with blue light, are turned on and make a pair of radicals ("a group of atoms behaving as a unit in a number of compounds"), which can be arranged to be parallel or un-parallel. The force of the magnetic field around the animal can change how long the blue light is active. When Crypto chromes are turned on, scientists believe it is in response to light sensitivity. This allows animals to "see" the magnetic field and its electrical pull, and to respond to it.

The other hypothesis is called Magneto reception. It is where there are different levels of magnetite in animals that can have a physical effect on how they detect the Earth's magnetic field. The more magnetite in the animal and exposure to magnesium makes the animal permanently magnetized. That then means that the animal steers and uses the magnetic field to navigate.

Animals' use of navigation.

Animals use navigation in various situations, such as:

1) An experiment was done with turtles where they were put off course on their first time going through a migration route and yet could very easily find their way back. This happened on an 8,000-mile migration route the first time they had ever seen it. Scientists repeated the experiment but had them in magnetic field unlike Earth's and saw that the turtles had trouble finding the right direction. Once it was changed back to our natural magnetic field, they went right back on course.

2) Homing experiments start when you first take a animal away from its nest then see how fast it can find its way back. Some of the experiments include starlings returning to their nests after being transported 800 kilometres (500 miles); swallows returning a distance of more than 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles); and Manx shearwater (similar to puffins) returning from Massachusetts to Britain, 4,900 kilometres (3,050 miles) across the Atlantic, in 12 1/2 days. According to scientists, many experiments with certain fishes and mammals have demonstrated similar homing ability.

"Two Research Studies into Animal Navigation." Two Research Studies into Animal Navigation - Essay - 929 Words. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

"Manx shearwaters can fly straight home when released, navigating thousands of miles over land or sea."

3) Pigeons are believed to be able to detect the Earth's magnetic field as well and there have been various studies and experiments regarding this topic. One experiment found that they do in fact use the Earth's magnetic field but also the sun to navigate. The scientists put magnets on the birds heads to disrupt any detection. They were then taken into unfamiliar areas and let go to find their way home. During the night the birds had trouble, but during the day they could easily find their way back with barely any difficulties.

Life without navigation.

Animals depend on navigation and without it they would have a big problem. As I mentioned earlier, newborn turtles have been able to find their way to the migration route and when taken off course can find their way back. But if the Earth's magnetic field is manipulated, they would immediately have no idea where they are going. This shows that animals would be lost. They would not be able to migrate, find their breeding grounds, or be able to find food sources. In other words, without being able to navigate (including using magnetic fields) they would likely perish.

A flock of birds migrating.


Magneto taxis can orient or arrange themselves based off of the Earth's magnetic field, which essentially helps animals navigate using the Earth's magnetic field as their guide. If they could not do this they would be permanently lost. They would not be able to scavenge for food or migrate because they could never find their way back to their original habitats.


Revision, 2016, and Katrina Says. "Who Invented Compass?" Who Invented? N.p., 22 Dec. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Borneman, Elizabeth. "Animal Navigation Through Magnetoception." Geolounge. N.p., 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

"Animals." HowStuffWorks. N.p., 22 Apr. 2008. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

"How Animal Migration Works." HowStuffWorks. N.p., 08 Jan. 2008. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

"Two Research Studies into Animal Navigation." Two Research Studies into Animal Navigation - Essay - 929 Words. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Dorst, Jean P. "Migration." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.


Created with images by Peter23394 - "Animals (256)" • PDPics - "magnetic compass navigation direction" • docoverachiever - "Magnets" • Archbob - "geese water birds"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.