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Nearly blind mole rats use their eyes to detect magnetic fields

Ansell’s mole rats may detect magnetic fields with a receptor in their eyes

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Certain mammals are able to detect magnetic fields, but where exactly the sense originates from has long remained elusive. Now, the organ that houses magnetic sensors in mole rats has been identified.

Kai Caspar at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, and his colleagues have found that the Ansell’s mole rat (Fukomys anselli) uses its eyes for magnetoreception.

This species of mole rat, known for digging long subterranean tunnels, has poor eyesight and tiny – but structurally intact – eyes. “They do …