Pigeons used gravity it would appear to navigate

#1
I wonder if Sheldrake ever thought it might be something as simple as gravity? This video is from his site.
http://www.sheldrake.org/videos/rupert-on-homing-pigeons
Start 2:00 minutes in
Abstract: The gravity vector theory postulates that birds determine their position to set a home course by comparing the memorized gravity vector at the home loft with the local gravity vector at the release site, and that they should adjust their flight course to the gravity anomalies encountered. As gravity anomalies are often intermingled with geomagnetic anomalies, we released experienced pigeons from the center of a strong circular gravity anomaly (25 km diameter) not associated with magnetic anomalies and from a geophysical control site, equidistant from the home loft (91 km). After crossing the border zone of the anomaly – expected to be most critical for pigeon navigation – they dispersed significantly more than control birds, except for those having met a gravity anomaly en route. These data increase the credibility of the gravity vector hypothesis.

No one knows how homing pigeons do it, but now a team of Swiss and South African scientists have discovered that the bird's navigation is affected by disturbances in gravity, suggesting that they navigate using a gravity map and that they may carry an internal gyroscope to guide them home.
Human communication has long been associated with an unlikely companion, the homing pigeon; but how these pigeons find their way home is still largely a mystery. 'There is widespread agreement that pigeons are able to determine and maintain flight (compass) directions based on solar and magnetic cues,' says Hans-Peter Lipp from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and Kwazulu-Natal University, South Africa. However, another piece of the puzzle - how the bird determines its position, known as the map sense - was unclear. Dissatisfied with the current theories - that pigeons navigate via an odour or geomagnetic map - and after decades of direct experience of working with pigeons in the Swiss Army, Lipp was intrigued when he encountered Valeryi Kanevskyi from the High-Technologies Institute, Ukraine. 'Valeryi had formulated a simplistic yet astonishing theory,' recalls Lipp. The Ukrainian had suggested that the birds could use their memory of the gravity field at their home loft for guidance. 'I realised that he had solved the map problem by one simple assumption: birds must have a gyroscope in their brain,' says Lipp. Lipp, Kanevskyi and their team publish their discovery that homing pigeons are affected by disturbances in the gravity field in The Journal of Experimental Biology and suggest that the birds navigate using an internal gyroscope to guide themselves home.

First the team needed to show that gravity anomalies - without geomagnetic contamination - would mislead pigeons and, fortunately, Kanevskyi and Vladimir Entin knew of just such a location in the Ukraine: a massive circular meteorite crater filled with
sediment where gravity was weaker than usual. The team wondered whether crossing the edge of the crater could disrupt a pigeon's gyroscope navigation system and send the birds off in the wrong direction. Lipp and Nicole Blaser were also lucky to find a family of pigeon fanciers - the Widergolds - in the nearby town of Novoukrainka, Ukraine, who could train the birds. Then, over a series of days the duo released 26 of the trained birds, each equipped with a light-weight GPS tracker, from the middle of the crater and waited anxiously for their return.
Of the 18 pigeons that made it home successfully, seven birds struck out in the correct direction and managed to cross the edge of the crater without deviating much from the bee-line home. However, other birds that set off in more random directions seemed to become disorientated at the edge of the crater. And when the birds crossed a second gravity disturbance, they also lost their bearing, setting new ones that split off in three different directions. Sergei Guskov and David Wolfer then compared the flight paths of the birds that encountered the gravity distortions with birds that had an unhindered return home and found that the disturbed birds' routes were much more widely dispersed than the unhindered groups and showed that the birds veered off most severely when they crossed the edge of the meteorite impact.

The team suggests that the birds initially set a bearing home by comparing their home gyroscope setting with their local gyroscope reading. However, some birds initially set the wrong bearing, often taking several days to correct the error and return home, suggesting that they rarely use the alternative navigation strategy of regularly checking the difference between their actual and anticipated return routes.

So it seems that perception of gravity plays a major role in guiding pigeons home and Lipp is keen to find out more about the cellular mechanisms that allow the birds to detect the weak gravitational forces that keep them on the straight and narrow.



Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-11-homing-pigeons-gyroscope-brain.html#jCp
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
So they took a limited sample outside the lab in order to ensure variables necessary to properly test their hypothesis were present?

Sounds like a good argument in support of parapsychology being done outside the lab rather than being dismissed on the grounds of supposed lack of replication in a laboratory environment.

Also helps to show how the RMC has nothing to do with real science.
 
#3
in all probability it's a delicate balance of many different things that allows pigeons to home, much like (just by way of example) human balance itself is not one thing, but many things...proprioception, information from the eyes, fluid in the ear canals, gravity, muscle tone, neurology, etc.
 
#5
in all probability it's a delicate balance of many different things that allows pigeons to home, much like (just by way of example) human balance itself is not one thing, but many things...proprioception, information from the eyes, fluid in the ear canals, gravity, muscle tone, neurology, etc.
Many things likely, but not a mysterious field. Years ago actually two decades I think, Sheldrake perfomed the homing pigeon experiment. He used a mobile and floating pigeon coop. I won't go into details, but once the coop was out of sight the pigeons could not find it. Since that time and when the web became available to me I've search for video of the experiment. To date I've not found it nor any hint of it. Maybe someone knows of it.
 
#6
"...something as simple as gravity..." eh... Lol
Your answer implies you readily accept the mysterious in place of the realistic. Intellectually I understand the reasons that lead such logic, but I will never comprehend the emotional need underlying such reasoning. Could you explain what I can't see. Wasn't it you that ripped to shreds the Powell experiment?
 
#7
Your answer implies you readily accept the mysterious in place of the realistic. Intellectually I understand the reasons that lead such logic, but I will never comprehend the emotional need underlying such reasoning. Could you explain what I can't see. Wasn't it you that ripped to shreds the Powell experiment?
Yes, I did, because there were very obvious reasons to do so.

However, your attempt to normalise your own beliefs, by suggesting my comment is somehow 'mysterious', or born from some sort of emotional insecurity have absolutely no impact on what General Relativity has to say about the nature of gravity.
 
#8
Yes, I did, because there were very obvious reasons to do so.

However, your attempt to normalise your own beliefs, by suggesting my comment is somehow 'mysterious', or born from some sort of emotional insecurity have absolutely no impact on what General Relativity has to say about the nature of gravity does
Your lol implied gravity is the wrong explanation which in turn suggested mysterious morphogenic fields were the better explanation. With the utmost respect to Albert, what in the hell does GR have to say about pigeons using gravity to navigate? Nothing, is the answer. So. Explain why pigeons using gravity requires a lol as the appropriate response?
 
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#10
I have a cat that has been living with us for a few years now. When she first showed up, she stayed outside and would sneak in to steal some of our dogs food. After about two weeks we decided to take her to vet to see if she had been tagged. She had, the owners were contacted. She had been missing for about 6 months and had come from arcross the other side of the city, through city and suburbs and over a major river.

We were sorry to see her go, but glad to reunite her with the owners. In the back of my mind I thought that she might return as I had had similiar experience with cats doing this before, and know of dogs doing similar navigation feats.

Two months later she was back. The thing is the original owners had since moved to a new location. She was placed in a cat carrier taken to the vet, collected by the owners taken to a new location on the otherside of town. Seeing as it took her two months to return I believe she must have escaped and left almost immediately.

I have no idea how she could have done it. She certainly was not reading street signs from the confines of an enclosed cat carrier, she would have no memory pattern to go on, no visual clues, no scent trails etc... far more than just directional, but pin point accuracy and considering the length and time of her journey, most probably without error. Simply amazing.
 
#11
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/science/learning-how-little-we-know-about-the-brain.html?_r=0
Scientists have puzzled out profoundly important insights about how the brain works, like the way the mammalian brain navigates and remembers places, work that won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for a British-American and two Norwegians.

Yet the growing body of data — maps, atlases and so-called connectomes that show linkages between cells and regions of the brain — represents a paradox of progress, with the advances also highlighting great gaps in understanding.
And now for the important part, and something I have been talking about at Skeptiko for a few years now.

Larry Abbott, at Columbia University, has helped develop theoretical models of how perception works in weakly electric fish.
So many large and small questions remain unanswered. How is information encoded and transferred from cell to cell or from network to network of cells? Science found a genetic code but there is no brain-wide neural code; no electrical or chemical alphabet exists that can be recombined to say “red” or “fear” or “wink” or “run.” And no one knows whether information is encoded differently in various parts of the brain.
Because a signal is a representation, as all physical information processing systems must use tokens representing things other than themselves. Here in lies the difficulty, for there is no physical connection, no physical law, no property of matter that can connect a representation to the actual thing it represents.

Yes, I sound like a broken record, we are surrounded by this phenomena, and it seems it is taken for granted to the very point that most people, as simple as it is can't even comprehend it even though we depend on it and are immersed in it on a daily basis. Not seeing the forest for the trees perhaps.
 
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#12
I have no idea how she could have done it. She certainly was not reading street signs from the confines of an enclosed cat carrier, she would have no memory pattern to go on, no visual clues, no scent trails etc... far more than just directional, but pin point accuracy and considering the length and time of her journey, most probably without error. Simply amazing.
Yeah, this thread reminded of this story: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/one-cats-incredible-journey

Things that make you go hmmm..
 
#13
My suspicion is that it is akin to an "autistic" ability by which the brain of the animal is surreptitiously recording (from multiple sources) the displacements it is being exposed to, and is later capable of "rewinding" them.

I also suggest an empirical experiment: it may be that a deeply anesthetized animal might not be able to do this.

This could not, however, explain cases where the owner moved away and yet the pet still found them.
 
#15
Your answer implies you readily accept the mysterious in place of the realistic. Intellectually I understand the reasons that lead such logic, but I will never comprehend the emotional need underlying such reasoning.
Your response shows that you continue with your blinders firmly in place. Intellectually I understand what people have strange beliefs such as thinking of the "mysterious" as not "realistic" but I doubt that I'll ever get the deep emotional need that cause the strong attachments to such limited views.
 
#16
The most mysterious aspect is the tales of pets being able to locate their displaced owners, rather than the other way round, as that can't easily be accounted for, even in principle, by some "environmental cueing."

It almost calls for a kind of "reverse Sheldrake experiment" where one of these dogs that shows promise for knowing when its owner is returning, is trained up to locate its owner, first at short distances.
 
#17
The most mysterious aspect is the tales of pets being able to locate their displaced owners, rather than the other way round, as that can't easily be accounted for, even in principle, by some "environmental cueing."

It almost calls for a kind of "reverse Sheldrake experiment" where one of these dogs that shows promise for knowing when its owner is returning, is trained up to locate its owner, first at short distances.
I'm the case of dogs knowing when their owners are coming home more likely has to do with the owners scent fading during the day and when it reaches
 
#18
The most mysterious aspect is the tales of pets being able to locate their displaced owners, rather than the other way round, as that can't easily be accounted for, even in principle, by some "environmental cueing."

It almost calls for a kind of "reverse Sheldrake experiment" where one of these dogs that shows promise for knowing when its owner is returning, is trained up to locate its owner, first at short distances.
In the case of dogs knowing when their owners are coming home more likely has to do with the owners scent fading during the day and when it reaches a diminished level the owner returns. The dog learns to make the association between diminished scent and the owner arrival.
 
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#19
In the case of dogs knowing when their owners are coming home more likely has to do with the owners scent fading during the day and when it reaches a diminished level the owner returns. The dog learns to make the association between diminished scent and the owner arrival.
Return times were randomized so far as I know, so that could not be the explanation.

But what I am talking about here is cases where the owners have relocated entirely, and yet the pets still tracked across the country to find them. That's not easy to explain.
 
#20
In the case of dogs knowing when their owners are coming home more likely has to do with the owners scent fading during the day and when it reaches a diminished level the owner returns. The dog learns to make the association between diminished scent and the owner arrival.
Was this a joke?
 
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