Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Intelligent System: Protein Helps Animals to Navigate By Sensing Earth’s Magnetic Field

Butterflies make use of the Earth’s magnetic field in their migrations.

Joel Kontinen

Many animals make use of the Earth’s magnetic field in their migrations. Researchers knew this but they were not sure how butterflies, birds, turtles and wolves did it.

Actually, even fruit flies and worms are able to navigate in this way.

Now, a research team led by Can Xie at Peking University has “found a protein in fruit flies, butterflies and pigeons that they believe to be responsible for this magnetic sense.”

Examining the fruit fly genome, they found a protein called MagR that interacts with another protein, cryptochrome.

An article in New Scientist explains how these two proteins work together:

“They found that MagR and cryptochrome proteins formed a cylinder, with an inside filling of 20 MagR molecules surrounded by 10 cryptochromes.

The researchers then identified and isolated this protein complex from pigeons and monarch butterflies.

In the lab, the proteins snapped into alignment in response to a magnetic field. They were so strongly magnetic that they flew up and stuck to the researchers’ tools, which contained iron. So the team had to use custom tools made of plastic.

Can blind Darwinian processes invent such a delicate method that would be of no use unless all the parts worked together from the beginning?

The logical answer is no. We know that marvels of engineering are the result of intelligence.

And intelligence requires a mind.

Many other amazing solutions seen in the animal kingdom rule out purely naturalistic explanations.


Nowogrodzki, Anna. 2015. Animal magnetic sense comes from protein that acts as a compass. New Scientist (16 November).