Magnetoreception: Why Animals Are Magnetic

Animals react to the Earth's magnetic field. Researchers commenced a new study to unravel the magnetic sensitivity that affects some of the animals we share this planet with. If you are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, consider how homing pigeons are able to make round trips without the aid of a GPS. Or how Loggerhead sea turtles are able to find the same beach on which they were born decades after their eggs were laid by their Momma turtle. Well, that and more pertains to how animals are glued into the earth's magnetic field.

This innate orientation is also found in birds, lobsters, rainbow trout, newts, and mole-rats. Let's explore how.

Radical Pair Mechanism

The recent study by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and the University of Oxford in the UK. Their focus is to uncover new insights behind the biophysical process known as the radical pair mechanism.

Three Theories

There are three fundamental theories as to how magnetoreception actually works, and what is its accuracy? The first involves magnetic minerals. Bacteria and phytoplankton generate biological magnetite crystals that allow them to sense Earth's magnetic field. Researchers have also concluded that birds have them in their beaks.

The second theory, electromagnetic induction, involves animals sensitive to electric charges, such as aquatic animals, that have an internal cellular or neural mechanism that converts electro-receptivity into magnetic sensitivity.

The third theory involves a biochemical reaction that generates radical pairs—quantum entangled molecules with unpaired electrons. Proteins called cryptochromes form radical pairs after they've been activated by energy absorption. Cryptochromes may hold a key to understanding the origin of magnetoreception in birds, which have cryptochromes in their eyes.

Magnetoreception: How Some Animals Are Magnetic

If your head hasn't exploded just yet, there is more I won't bore you with at this time, except to tell you if interested you can check out the feature, which highlights a lot more detail.

Why don't human have Magnetoreception?

After learning how many animals have magnetoreception, it's a mystery as to why the highest animal on the food chain —  namely humans — weren't born with this body function?

One might ask if the human's sixth sense is similar to an animal's magnetoreception. Since some of us believe in the sixth sense, they may have brain waves similar to an animal's magnetoreception.

In a California Institute of Technology lab in California researchers discovered people form a distinct brain-wave pattern when they are exposed to a magnetic field that is equal in strength to Earth’s. But the pattern emerges only when the field points move in a certain way. The researchers shared their findings online March 18 in eNeuro.

The discovery offers evidence that some people respond to Earth’s magnetic field without knowing it. It’s not yet clear how our brains might use this information.

In 2016, U.S. researcher Joe Kirschvink thinks he might have finally found evidence of humanity's sixth sense - the ability to detect, in some subconscious way to Earth's magnetic field.

However, the study is only the tip of the iceberg. There' more work that has to be done to find out if we could find the excerpt spot where we were born, or can deliver messages and return home like a homing pigeon.

"We've got a long way to go, but it seems like we might be closer than ever before to show that humans haven't totally lost touch with our sixth sense. And that's pretty exciting. It’s part of our evolutionary history," says Kirschvink. "Magnetoreception may be the primal sense."

I think that means that humans in the year 3000 or 4000 millennia might have finally evolved to a level where this feature has become innate and fully operational. What do you think?


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