It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
GPS in Salmon?
Salmon appear to inherit this map as genetic hand-me-downs from their parents: Young fish that were raised in captivity still responded as expected to artificial magnetic fields. “If they’re using magnetic fields to figure out where they are, when they’re in a different magnetic field, they should change their swimming direction,” says Nathan Putman, a researcher at Oregon State University (O.S.U.) and lead author of the study. And indeed, the fish “go in different directions in different magnetic fields,” he says.
Whereas the study showed that salmon inherit some innate maps, it is not clear exactly how the animals perceive them. “We can’t say what a fish or a turtle is picturing,” Putman says. What the scientists are stuck with, he says, is looking at the behavior of the salmon and asking how they behave. “It’s behaving like it has some information about where it is,” he says, meaning that it has some sort of internal map based just on the magnetic field.
James Gould, an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University who was not involved in the study, wrote in a commentary on the paper that the fish may not have a map like the kind we might imagine, but instead something akin to an Excel spreadsheet, with “lists of magnetic coordinates with the seasonally appropriate directional responses filled in.” That is, the fish may simply perceive the magnetic field at a given location and, like a GPS, have essentially a voice command in its head that tells it where to swim. Putman thinks this is likely the case for the salmon. “If I had to bet, I would say that is probably what’s happening,” he says.