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    Re: Celestial navigation in animals?
    From: Francis Upchurch
    Date: 2016 Dec 20, 10:42 -0800

    I suspect everyone is right here. It is probably unlikely that any known biological system could produce a "chronometer" capable of winning the longitude prize. I just wonder whether we are missing the point here and locking ourselves into "current knowledge, people think". 

    The fact is, many animals manage to navigate over thousands of miles to find the same nest/ birth river or whatever. They presumably do not use sextants, almanacs etc and obviously do not need to.They do what we would be love to achieve using all our gizmos and maths and hundreds of years of astronomy, by doing what they do, instinctively. But they do do it. (never underestimate the power of evolution over millions of years). We have a swallow family in its 4th successive year finding its old nest to the nearest inch in our roof, presumably after a long flight from Africa. Couldn't do that with my cel nav kit. Difficult even with GPS. Cruise missles often miss the target.

    So maybe we should  look more deeply (hopefully via ethically acceptable experiments) to learn a bit more from our animal cousins? 

    Meanwhile, what a great project for a young scientist. Moments like this, wish I was 24 again!

    I predict great progress in this field in the next decade.

    Best wishes

    Happy festivities

    Francis

       
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