By studying homing pigeons, biologists from the U.S. discovered in their brain a separate group of neurons responsible for processing the information necessary to birds for orientation in space, thus helping them plotted on long flights. Discovered by scientists "biokompos" helps birds navigate by the magnetic field of the Earth.
In the early 21st century, biologists have discovered iron-containing cells in the beak of pigeons, which some ornithologists mistakenly became known as "biokomposom" birds. In fact, as shown by Australian scientists, biochips iron were no other than the remains of the hemoglobin of dead red blood cells that have been "eaten" by immune cells - macrophages.
David Dickman and Letsin Wu of Baylor College of Medicine Houston first identified the areas of the brain pigeon that receive and process the information from the magnetic navigation system. Thus, the centers of orientation in space and control limbs are in the posterior regions of the brain and in the vestibular nuclei.
The experiments involved a few pigeons. Pre-sedating them, they are hooked up to a set of neurons in the brain of miniature electrodes. Recovered from surgery, researchers pigeons were placed in a special cell, surrounded by a perimeter around the three-dimensional magnetic field.
Helmholtz coils perform two functions in the experiment: the vast earth’s magnetic field and generate a local field, which can be arbitrarily changed direction and strength. This technique allowed to allocate 53 neurons in the vestibular nuclei of the brain that respond to changes in the characteristics of the magnetic field. Each cell is "catching" the direction of the magnetic field, which helps the birds accurately determine its position on long flights.
Scientists suggest that their research shows the probability of the existence of iron-containing cells. Once they are located in the inner ear birds. In subsequent studies, the scientists want to find out how birds use this information. The study was published in the journal Science.