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Clusters of superparamagnetic magnetite particles in the upper-beak tissue of homing pigeons: evidence of a magnetoreceptor

Winklhofer, M., E. Holtkamp-Rötzler, M. Hanzlik, G. Fleissner, and N. Petersen (2001), Clusters of superparamagnetic magnetite particles in the upper-beak tissue of homing pigeons: evidence of a magnetoreceptor, Eur. J. Mineral., 13(4), 659-669, doi:10.1127/0935-1221/2001/0013-0659.

Abstract
Previous electrophysiological studies on bobolinks, an American migratory songbird, and on homing pigeons suggested that the skin of the upper beak may be involved in magnetic-field perception, which makes this tissue likely to contain a magnetic field receptor. In the upper-beak skin of homing pigeons, we localised high concentrations of Fe3+, which form distinct coherent elongated structures extending up to 200 mum in length. Rather than being randomly distributed over the tissue, these structures always occur in the same skin layer, the stratum laxum of the subcutis. Using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we identified the material as aggregates of magnetite (Fe3O4) nanocrystals, in the grain-size range of superparamagnetism at ambient temperatures. The nanocrystals (with grain-sizes between 2 and 5 nm) form densely packed, encapsulated clusters of 1 to 3 mum in diameter. It is demonstrated that such a cluster undercroes shape changes as the magnetic field changes, and thus could represent the core of a magnetic-field receptor. This interpretation is supported by the fact that the found structures are adjacent to nervous material.
BibTeX
@article{id116,
  author = {M. Winklhofer and E. Holtkamp-R{\"o}tzler and M. Hanzlik and G. Fleissner and N. Petersen},
  journal = {Eur. J. Mineral.},
  month = {jul},
  number = {4},
  pages = {659-669},
  title = {{Clusters of superparamagnetic magnetite particles in the upper-beak tissue of homing pigeons: evidence of a magnetoreceptor}},
  volume = {13},
  year = {2001},
  language = {en},
  doi = {10.1127/0935-1221/2001/0013-0659},
}
EndNote
%0 Journal Article
%A Winklhofer, M.
%A Holtkamp-Rötzler, E.
%A Hanzlik, M.
%A Fleissner, G.
%A Petersen, N.
%D 2001
%N 4
%V 13
%J Eur. J. Mineral.
%P 659-669
%T Clusters of superparamagnetic magnetite particles in the upper-beak tissue of homing pigeons: evidence of a magnetoreceptor
%8 jul
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Printed 15. Dec 2019 22:31