Some animals can see Earth's electro magnetic field

Discussion in 'The Science Forum' started by Dashing_Chap, Jan 12, 2011.

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  1. Foxes zero in on prey via Earth's magnetic field - life - 12 January 2011 - New Scientist

    I've always considered it to be a rather big gap in our knowledge that we are so restricted by our senses and that other creatures may be able to percieve things which we cannot. Apparently foxes are able to hunt by using the Earth's electro-magnetic field and this is also explains the migratory pattern for birds.

    Birds can 'see' the Earth's magnetic field - life - 30 April 2008 - New Scientist

    I wonder if animals can sense other things too?

  2. Hmm,

    A bare hypothesis. Much more investigation needed. I give the "able to sense the magnetic field" rather than the "shadow on the retina" aspect more "sniff test" credibility.

    Various birds having magnetic sense has been known for some time although, as the article suggests, this has always been considered to be a directional sense rather than a distance sense.

    Indeed - some snakes can sense infra-red right down at the animal-warm-body level (10 microns, ish, so 15x longer than human visible red), lots of insects see in near-UV. Frog eyesight is sufficiently sensitive that they can detect individual photons. Some creatures can detect polarisation of lights (insects, I think). Human hearing is pretty crap, our sense of smell appalling.

    But think about it a different way - there are only so many fields or forces. We can actually detect more things than the traditional 5 - your skin can sense infra-red radiation and air movement - we can sense rapid pressure changes (you could class the last two as very low frequency sound, of course). Some fish, and the duck billed platypus, can detect electric fields (as we can, admittedly very badly, when they are strong enough to affect our hair!)
  3. Makes sense to me... we are made from common elements and each of them are physically bound to the planet where we live. Chances are that some animals are sensitive to things acting upon their brains that we no longer notice.
  4. Maybe they don't notice it either, even though they may be sensitive to it.
  5. Where exactly did the iron come from? The electricity that you are using for this discussion is carried, some of the way, by copper, you're probably looking at this by the light of a tungsten filament - both too heavy for fusion forming.

    You mean "gravitationally bound", don't you ...
  6. He does, I am sure.

    But in fact we are all "children of the universe" since we're all made of some of the same elements that make up the universe. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some animals could sense things like naturally occurring gauss fields, after all, human beings see by electromagnetic waves, er, particles, er.... Oh hell, quantum mechanics. And how DO fish navigate large distances through the worlds oceans (etc)?
  7. I think I got that....they do what they do by instinct...right?

    Oh...yeah supanova produced elements...of course. I mean that we are living on Earth not anywhere else as far as we can tell...

    Cheers... :)
  8. In a very slightly facetious mode, I would suggest that Squaddies can sense beer or alcohol in most forms miles away. The more experienced ones can sense the immenent approach of the RSM or monkeys.
    Back to reality, sharks do not have particularly good vision but they are able to sense disturbances in the water and electromagnetic fields at considerable distance. As has already been mentioned some snakes can "see" the deep IR and can tell temperature difference to about 1/100 of a degree, that I believe is better than man made thermal imagers. There are also snakes that can smell their own venom after they have bitten their prey and can then follow it in the dark.