It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


All Birds Have Iron Balls

page: 1

log in


posted on Apr, 27 2013 @ 07:41 PM
Bird Navigation: Great Balls of Iron

very year millions of birds make heroic journeys guided by Earth's magnetic field. How they detect magnetic fields has puzzled scientists for decades. Today, the Keays lab at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna has added some important pieces to this puzzle.

So apparently all birds have these little balls of iron in their sensory neurons in their hair cells that are located in the ear. Previously known to be responsible for detecting sound and gravity, they may just be partially responsible helping birds migrations.

Remarkably, each cell has just one iron ball, and it is in the same place in every cell. "It's very exciting. We find these iron balls in every bird, whether it's a pigeon or an ostrich" adds Mattias Lauwers who discovered them "but not in humans." It is an astonishing finding, despite decades of research these conspicuous balls of iron had not been discovered.

I still don't think that birds need to use Earth's magnetic field in order to know North and South. I'd imagine that using the sun and stars is enough to go by. Maybe though...

So you're telling me, all we need are iron balls and everyone has a built in compass? Psshh, and who says that bio-engineering isn't the way to go. I think it would be cool to have iron balls and know where I'm headed.

posted on Apr, 27 2013 @ 07:43 PM
That's really cool info..

Thanks for sharing that..

posted on Apr, 27 2013 @ 07:55 PM
In other bird related information: Drunken' Bird's Iron Balls Fail Them

Young Birds Can Get 'Drunk' On Fermented Berries: Effects Similar to Those for People, Only Drunk Birds Have Much Further to Fall

Well apparently, even with iron balls and all... birds should not drink and fly.

Young birds can get 'drunk' on fermented berries. But unsteadiness on the feet, a tendency to fall over, and losing the ability to steer is considerably more of a problem when life is normally spent in trees or in the air.

Three tissue samples from the dead birds were sent for toxicological analysis, one of which revealed high levels of pure alcohol (ethanol). Staff at the wildlife rescue centre to which the live bird was sent also reported that it had been unsteady on its feet and appeared "drunk."

The bird had had to place its wings on the ground to steady itself, and had leant against the walls of its enclosure to keep upright, they said. After two days the bird fully recovered and was released back into the wild.

Poor little guys, just wanting to grub on some berries... next thing you know, they're getting into fights, showing up late to work, and flying into phone poles. The madness.

posted on Apr, 27 2013 @ 09:46 PM
If this is new, why do I know it already and have known it since I was a kid?

I swear to god I learnt this before I was 10.



It's not just birds. Certain microbes also react to magnetic fields.

but... yeah i was right... why is this news?


pril 1972
> Wiltschko and Wiltschko, 176 (4030): 62-64

Prev | Table of Contents | Next
Science 7 April 1972:
Vol. 176 no. 4030 pp. 62-64
DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4030.62

Magnetic Compass of European Robins

Wolfgang Wiltschko1,
Roswitha Wiltschko1

1Zoologisches Institut der Universit├Ąt, D 6 Frankfurt a.M., Siesmayerstrasse 70, Germany


The magnetic compass of European robins does not use the polarity of the magnetic field for detecting the north direction. The birds derive their north direction from interpreting the inclination of the axial direction of the magnetic field lines in space, and they take the direction on the magnetic north-south axis for "north" where field lines and gravity vector form the smaller angle.

edit on 27-4-2013 by winofiend because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 27 2013 @ 09:55 PM
We call them magnetosomes in biology. It basically, tells them north and south electromagnetically. That's not to be misconstrued with the 'north pole'. That 'area' fluctuates.

posted on Apr, 27 2013 @ 10:26 PM
Drunk birds with balls of steel
Sounds like some people I know.

Actually it is an informative thread. It shows that people are still learning important things. This could be very useful to understand in the future. I wonder if bees use a similar system, they are very aware of their position.

top topics

log in