Magnetoreception in Dinosaurs?
  • Upper Lecture Theatre, Sherwell Centre, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA

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The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences organises a regular series of research seminars throughout the academic year to which everyone is welcome to attend. Speakers - both external and internal to the University - will talk on topics related to all aspects of Earth Sciences.

Today's speaker is Dr Graeme Taylor from the University of Plymouth.
Reproducible magnetoreception in animals was first reported in the mid-1960s. In the 1970s the phenomenon impacted on a few geoscientists with the discovery of magnetotactic bacteria in wet sediment. 

Interest died away until the late 2000s when it again boomed. Up until today many migratory, but also non-migratory species have been recognised as using the earth’s magnetic field, with the latter including the orientation of herds (cows, sheep, deer) and predators. 

Evolutionary history suggests that similar traits in organisms emerge through shared common ancestors. 

It is, therefore, logical to surmise that magnetoreception must be an ancient trait given its widespread and repeated occurrence in diverse parts of the animal kingdom. 

However, how do we look for such a phenomenon in the rock and fossil record? The answer might lie with behavioural patterns recorded in trace fossils. 

Here Graeme reports the results of a compilation of Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaur trackway orientations from Europe and Korea and looks at the inferences for ancient animal behaviour.

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