Pigeons Are Born With An Inbuilt GPS


Pigeons are known for their ability to navigate through known locations by recalling of the memorized visual milestones. These birds can learn and follow frequent routes home this depends upon the complexity of the terrain below them which should neither be too pronounced nor to little. Hedges and boundaries provide ultimate landmarks for navigation, demarcating the urban from that of rural area. The research conducted by Dr Richard Mann at the Department of Mathematics, Uppsala University, in alliance with researchers at Oxford University and the Zoological Society of London. 

From four different areas around Oxford, 31 pigeons were set free, considering 20 flights from each of them. Researchers found that when the terrain below the pigeons is complex, the pigeons were good at remembering flight routes.

Dr Richard Mann of Uppsala University Sweden, previously from Oxford University where he conducted the research on the topic said that the pigeons’ ability to remember routes is greatly affected by the landscape visual properties within a radius of 250 metre beneath them. The birds face problem in memorizing routes if the terrain is too monotonous like a farmland or too dense like a forest or an urban area. They are comfortable when the visual to memorize is somewhere in between such as large open area with hedges, tree or buildings. Demarcation between urban and rural are also favourable.

The insight on how pigeon with their comparatively small sized brain, remember their localized routes around is of great importance. They are highly efficient in making use of their limited mental competence to remember complex routes. Humans and other animals with large brain size as compared to those of pigeons (wondered whether they are born with an in build GPS or other navigation devise), continue to face challenges when it comes to memorizing routes.

Source: PHY.ORG

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