Street Techie Alberto Gaitan writes “Some birds (and maybe newts!) may have HUDs:”
Published on the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) website, a paper describes how one team of scientists in Germany studied a specie of nocturnal migratory bird to test the hypothesis that birds of that type may be able to visually detect the earth’s magnetic field providing them with what may amount to a head-up display (HUD). Birds trained to orient to magnetic fields managed to do so quickly when tested in white or short wavelength light (i.e., blue and green) but had a hard time doing so when tested in yellow or red light. These previous findings, along with new neuronal tracing data that shows that the part of their brain most active during magnetic orientation is their visual thalamus, suggests that they used visual cues to hop into proper position when the magnetic field changed during the lab experiments.