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Fish respond to magnetic fields: rainbow trout


Rainbow trout / Citron / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

The trigeminal cranial nerve of rainbow trout helps them detect magnetic fields by containing magnetosensitive nerve fibers.

"In 1997, the first known magnetoreceptors -- directly linking magnetite to neural connections and activity -- were found in vertebrates. A team of zoologists from Auckland University, led by Dr. Michael Walker, had been studying this mysterious sense in trout, and knew that a region of its skull contained magnetite.

"Recording neural activity from that region, they discovered that a specific subgroup of nerve fibers within a branch of the trigeminal cranial nerve called the ros V nerve fired in response to changes in the surrounding magnetic field. They also found magnetite in a tissue layer directly beneath the trout's olfactory (smell) organs. When they injected a colored dye into the ros V nerve's newly exposed magnetosensitive fibers, the dye revealed that the fibers terminated and ramified all around the magnetite-containing cells within the trout's olfactory tissue." (Shuker 2001:46)
About the inspiring organism
Med_oncorhynchus_mykiss3 Rainbow trout
Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum, 1792)
Common names: Steelhead trout, Steelhead, Rainbow trout, Baiser, Baja California rainbow trout, Brown trout, Coast angel trout, Coast rainbow trout, Coast range trout, Hardhead, Kamloops, Kamloops trout, Kamchatka salmon, Kamchatka steelhead, Kamchatka trout, Lord-fish

Habitat(s): Wetlands
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Some organism data provided by: FishBase
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Magnetic sensors.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Magnetics, industrial engineering

Behaviour in Space and Time Laboratory
Michael Walker
School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland
Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
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Bohannon, J. 2007. MICHAEL WALKER: Seeking Nature's Inner Compass. Science. 5852(318): 904-907.
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