Turns out dolphins have a certain magnetic quality, not just figuratively but literally.
Researchers observed a change in the behavior of dolphins whenever they swim near magnetized objects. It was then found that they are sensitive to magnetic stimuli.
Lead researcher Dorothee Kremers and her colleagues at Ethos unit of the Universite de Rennes in France affirmed that they have behavioral evidence showing that these marine species are magneto-receptive.
The researchers explained that magneto-reception is a sense, which allows an organism to detect a magnetic field to perceive direction, altitude or location. It is considered to play an important role as to how certain land and aquatic species orientate and navigate themselves.
“Dolphins are able to discriminate between objects based on their magnetic properties, which is a prerequisite for magneto reception-based navigation,” said Dorothee Kremers, one of the study’s researchers. “Our results provide new, experimentally obtained evidence that cetaceans have a magnetic sense, and should therefore be added to the list of magneto-sensitive species.”
A new study published in the journal Naturwissenschaften — The Science of Nature, reveals that the aquatic mammals are attracted to magnets, behaving differently when in proximity to magnetized objects as opposed to any that are demagnetized.
Magneto-reception, or the use of magnetic fields to perceive location, direction or altitude, has been observed in several species and is theorized to play a role in the migration of dolphins, whales and porpoises. Experimental evidence to support the theory had not been gathered conclusively, however.
To test the hypothesis, researchers at the Université de Rennes in France gathered six captive bottlenose dolphins and studied their reaction to different barrels. The barrels were identical physically, yet one being magnetized while the other was not:
Here, we tested the spontaneous response of six captive bottlenose dolphins to the presentation of two magnetized and demagnetized controlled devices while they were swimming freely. Dolphins approached the device with shorter latency when it contained a strongly magnetized neodymium block compared to a control demagnetized block that was identical in form and density and therefore indistinguishable with echolocation.
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