Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Monarch butterfly navigation system found

WORCESTER, Mass., Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Researchers say they've discovered how monarch butterflies navigate some 3,000 miles each fall from Canada to Mexico without losing their way.

The mystery was reportedly solved by scientists exploring the monarch's infinitesimal brain and eye tissues.

The research team -- led by Dr. Steven Reppert of the University of Massachusetts Medical School -- discovered ultraviolet light is crucial to the creature's orientation. The butterflies were found to have photoreceptors for ultraviolet light that provide them with their sense of direction.

The scientists proved the ultraviolet "navigation" is crucial by placing butterflies in a "flight simulator." When a UV light filter was used, the butterflies lost their orientation

The study appears in a recent issue of Neuron magazine, constituting a continuation of the team's earlier work that was published in the journal Science.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.



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