Antonio Nafarrate has developed a fascinating new model of how animals navigate based on the forces of Gravity and the use of “gyros” by animals to orientate themselves. We agree that the idea of the magnet field as a navigational aid is increasingly being shown to be unlikely. This is the introduction for his longer paper but covers all the themes he will be addressing.
Please also see the posts below which cover this new emerging set of theories.
Antonio Nafarrate particularly wants feedback.
Richard Nissen Editor
Gravity and Gyro effects are the basis of animal navigation by Antonio Nafarrate
In a paper that I wrote in 1987 it was mentioned that there should be molecules having internal rotors that will be working as accurate detectors of the direction of gravity and also they will sense the rotation of the Earth and the displacements of an animal having them. Navigation and biological rhythms were connected as the two sides of a coin. My idea came up from the experiments of Lindauer and Martin with honey bees. The geomagnetic field introduced a small perturbation to the correct pointing that is based in gravitational sensing and timing. This clearly indicated that magnetism is not a good cue in the navigation of animals and as we know now is also a bad cue for human navigators as well. Of course for several centuries it was the best available. Nobody in his sane mind will venture at sea today with only a magnetic compass. They will use GPS that uses radio contact with orbiting satellites.
I described in simple words how a spinning top can be used for navigation indicating changes in Longitude and how a device such as the Foucault pendulum can be used to measure Latitude. All this is fine but now comes the question: do animals have these molecules? The answer is: Yes, and proven my intuition was correct. The molecule is ATP-ase the enzyme that produces ATP that is the basic fuel of the cells in the large majority of living organisms. They come in all orientations in the mitochondria of animals and in the chloroplasts of plants. Certainly the functions of Navigation and rhythms are most likely confined to some specific areas of the body such as the pineal gland in most vertebrates and the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) in higher primates that have been demonstrated to produce the circadian rhythms. Some ultradian rhythms are related to the suprarenal glands that are near the centre of gravity of humans and many mammals and they produce cortisol at intervals of some 90 minutes that is very close to the period of the Schuler tuning of a gyrocompass. Gyroscopes are inertial devices used for guidance of missiles and submarines while submerged. They are also used to aim space telescopes such as the Hubble. Some toys sold as gyroscopes are really spinning tops mounted in a frame. A true gyroscope should have a mount with three axes of freedom called cardanic suspension and after being launched should remain fix in space pointing to the same place of the sky.
Clearly the mystery is not solved yet but I think that I am now pointing to the correct trail to follow. Science never ends.