Talk:Homing (biology)

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How do homing animals determine longitudinal position? Sailing ships were only able to do this with the invention of the marine chronometer. The compass, celestial observation, sunlight polarization, and such provide latitudinal position, but not east-west or longitudinal position. Use of memory of known topography, odors, and such will work only within familiar terrain or close to the destination. Certainly animals could move toward the proper latitude and then turn one way or the other to follow that latitude until local clues allow them to more directly trend home. To avoid mistaking which way to turn when reaching their latitude, the dead reckoning direction could intentionally deviate from the expected direction a bit so the animal knows which direction to turn when it reaches its latitude. However, to find longitudinal location required knowing the difference between local time and the time at the destination and this has to be fairly precise. North-orienting factors such as magnetic field horizontal and vertical orientation are not precisely oriented north and vary with position. Imprinting such subtleties of magnetic orientation of the home in memory might allow such navigation, but I have never heard this discussed or argued. This could be easily checked by putting such animals in areas where the magnetic field is locally altered by mineral deposits, such as one in Alabama where my compass was thrown off by about ninety degrees. However, I am really wondering about the pathways homing animals follow in returning home from an distant destination when they were not allowed access to visual and other environmental contacts during their transport. I would welcome input from a researcher on this, which I am not.07:44, 18 November 2014 (UTC)~~