Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside

Scientists Find GPS Neurons in Pigeons

Study helps explain birds' ability to navigate

Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine may have identified how pigeons navigate after discovering a group of brain cells that are sensitive to the direction and strength of magnetic fields. On Thursday, researchers Le-Qing Wu and David Dickman published a study in the journal Science showing that the birds' orientation determined which neurons were activated, giving the pigeons virtual compasses inside their brains. The species' ability to navigate thousands of miles, even in poor weather, has long baffeled scientists. “It’s a stunning piece of work,” said David Keays of Vienna's Institute of Molecular Pathology. The authors are still unsure how the birds are able to sense the magnetic field, but next plan to study the inner ear.

Read more at the New York Times

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: News