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No. 63: May-Jun 1989

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A Magnetic Sense In Mice

Orientation responses of mice a normal geomagnetic field
Orientation responses of mice displaced in a normal geomagnetic field (A & B) and a reversed field (C & D). Mean directions are indicated in the center (a-d).

"Abstract. We displaced white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) 40 m away from their home areas and released them in a circular arena. Mice concentrated their exploratory and escape activity in the portion of the arena corresponding to home direction. In another group of mice, we reversed the horizontal com-ponent of the geomagnetic field surrounding them during displacement. These individuals concentrated their activity in areas of the circular arena opposite home direction. Mice were not likely using visual, chemical, or kinesthetic cues to establish home direction. Tissues of P. leucopus exhibit strong isothermal remanant magnetization and may contain biogenic ferromagnetic material. Our results suggest that white footed mice have a magnetic sense and use the geomagnetic field as a compass cue."

(August, Peter V., et al; "Magnetic Orientation in a Small Mammal, Peromyscus Leucopus," Journal of Mammalogy, 70:1, 1989.)

Reference. See BMT1 in Biological Anomalies: Mammals I for more on magnetic orientation and navigation. This book is described here.

From Science Frontiers #63, MAY-JUN 1989. 1989-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987