A number of different organisms including bacteria, and many insects, birds and fish are able to instinctively detect magnetic fields. Humans are not thought to have this ability, although this has been questioned by some. Many species, most notably migratory birds and fish, make use of this capability to navigate long distances. The exact physiological mechanism that organisms use to sense magnetic fields has been much debated among experts. To find out more about this fascinating area of research, Helen Albert spoke to Professor Michael Winklhofer from the University of Oldenburg in Germany, a biophysicist with a special interest in magnetoreception and its molecular mechanisms.

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