Magnetoreception and baroreception in birds


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The world as we know it is defined by our senses, although as humans we are equipped to receive and interpret only a fraction of the potential sensory information available. Birds have evolved with different sensory priorities to our own; they can use the Earth's magnetic field as a navigational aid, and are sensitive to slight changes in barometric pressure. These abilities help explain the impressive ability of many bird species to orientate, navigate, and maintain steady altitude during flight over long distances, even in the absence of clear visual cues. This review will explore the history of research into these “avian” senses, highlighting their likely mechanisms of action, underlying neuronal circuitry and evolutionary origins.