"It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:"
Homing pigeons are valued because of their highly developed sense of direction, and this includes the ability to read the Earth's magnetic field. Some other birds, turtles and even a few salamanders have also shown this same ability. However, bees, ants or people are not born with this ability.
Until now, those animals classified as "lower animals" on the evolutionary scale were not expected to have such navigation abilities. However, this ability has now been confirmed in – of all things – the Caribbean spiny lobster. Researchers collected more than 100 lobsters from various locations; each lobster was tagged with a number indicating the exact location of their discovery. They were then placed in closed containers and boated about in circuitous routes for an hour so that they would not remember the direction of home. To further confuse the lobsters, some of the containers contained magnets. Each lobster was then fitted with a removable hood so that they were effectively blindfolded. They were then placed in a large tank to see which direction they would naturally seek. Typically, the lobsters would begin trying to walk home, aiming to within three compass degrees of where they were captured.
Scientists were surprised that a so-called "lower invertebrate" has a navigation system as sophisticated as a homing pigeon. But they shouldn't be surprised. The same wise Creator made both creatures.
Notes: Science News, 1/4/03, p. 4, S. Milius, "Homing Lobsters."
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