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PhysOrg

Studying the mechanism for avian magnetic orientation

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Ornithologists and physicists from St Petersburg University have conducted an interdisciplinary study together with colleagues from Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Biological Station Rybachy of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They have created a micro device, weighing less than a gram, which enables them to disrupt locally the avian magnetic compass. The scientists have discovered that magnetoreception in birds is unlikely to be associated with the light-sensitive protein cryptochrome in the retinas of their eyes, though photochemical reactions in cryptochrome have been so far considered to be the primary biophysical mechanism behind the magnetic sense of birds.

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