Monday, 22 December 2014

Seals May Have 'Natural GPS'

Peter Rejcek, Editor of The Antarctic Sun | December 21, 2014 02:42am ET

Peter Rejcek is the editor of The Antarctic Sun. On his behalf, the U.S. National Science Foundation contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

While hunting, Weddell seals have biological adaptations that allow them to dive deep, as much as of hundreds of meters, but also an uncanny ability to find the breathing holes they need on the surface of the ice. Now, researchers supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) believe they have figured out they do it: by using the Earth's magnetic field as a natural GPS. 

"This animal, we think, may be highly evolved with an ability to navigateusing magnetic sense in order to find ice holes some distance apart and get back to them safely," explained Randall Davis of the Department of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University. 

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