Salmon Use Sophisticated Compass Cells | The Institute for Creation Research

Salmon Use Sophisticated Compass Cells

How does the salmon find its way from the big, wide ocean to the same stream, hundreds of miles away to the exact same spawning ground of its birth? Studies have shown that the fish use their acute sense of smell to navigate, whereby chemoreceptor cells in their noses detect specific chemicals. Other studies have shown that salmon and other animals somehow also use an internal compass. Researchers have finally discovered it.

The salmon compasses were hard to find because they are so small. Individual cells contain microscopic clusters of magnetite crystals, the same mineral used in hand-held compasses. Scientists isolated them from salmon nose tissue cells and observed them under a microscope. Rotating a larger magnetic field around the tissues caused only the magnetic cells to rotate in sync. They wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "The cells were observed to rotate at the same frequency as the driving frequency of the external magnetic field."1

Apparently, the cells surrounding the magnetite-containing cells detect and transmit the angle of rotation data to sensory nerves that lead toward the fish brain. The brain coordinates combined chemical, magnetic, and other information, enabling the fish to successfully navigate.

Further, only one in 10,000 of the fish's nasal tissue cells were magnetite-containing magnetoreceptors. Senior author of the study, Michael Winklhofer of Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, told Live Science, "If they were as closely packed as photoreceptor cells in the retina or as hair cells in the inner ear, then they would interfere strongly with each other, because their internal compass needles would produce a locally strong magnetic field, which would be felt by the neighboring magnetic cells. Such proximity would deteriorate the magnetic sense."2

The ingenious microscopic compass cells would not even work if they were not distributed as they are among surrounding cells!

Would anybody argue that a fully functional compass, complete with a spinning needle, could ever be arranged by accident? Apparently so. University of North Carolina Biologist and expert in animal's magnetic behaviors told Live Science that since other animals appear to navigate with compass-derived information, then they, too, must have internal compasses similar to salmon. He therefore suggested that additional kinds of magnetoreceptors may have evolved separately.

But there is no evidence for this. It is, as always, an assertion based on a pre-existing commitment to evolution. In fact, the assertion that compasses evolved, which means they constructed themselves piece-by-piece without intelligent input, ignores the fact that the irreducible core compass structure cannot be reduced or amended without destroying its function. The crystals, the cell's placement, the cell-to-cell sense receptors, and the means to communicate the magnetoreceptor data to the brain for processing must all exist at the same time. And that required a master engineer.

References

  1. Eder, S. et al. Magnetic characterization of isolated candidate vertebrate magnetoreceptor cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Published online before print on pnas.org July 9, 2012.
  2. Wolchover, N. Likely Source of Animals' Magnetic Sense Identified. Live Science. Posted on livescience.com July 9, 2012, accessed July 17, 2012.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on July 30, 2012.

The Latest
NEWS
Inside December 2021 Acts & Facts
How can we understand Christ’s role as our mediator from a scientific perspective? Why was ICR's first dinosaur excavation significant for...

APOLOGETICS
Christ’s Providence Is Clearly Seen in Bird Migrations
Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky”...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Snowflakes
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
The Gift of God Himself
Each Christmas we remember how deeply God loves us. His wondrous plan of salvation—first set in motion in the Garden of Eden—was miraculously...

ACTS & FACTS
Early Land Plant Evolution?
In a recent Science article, two evolutionists consider land plants (embryophytes) to have evolved from stoneworts (charophyte algae).1 A...

ACTS & FACTS
Biblical Creation and Intellectual Foolishness
In a recent interview discussing his new book In Quest of the Historical Adam, philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig acknowledged his...

ACTS & FACTS
Are Birds “Cousins” to Reptiles?
Are today’s birds genealogical “cousins” to today’s reptiles due to a shared evolutionary ancestry? No. However, birds and...

ACTS & FACTS
Haleakala National Park: One of Many Young-Looking Volcanoes
You can start the day atop the cold peak of Mt. Haleakala and end it on a warm beach on Maui. The sprawling volcanic mountain rises 10,000 feet above...

ACTS & FACTS
The Oceans Point to a Young Earth
by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D.* Over 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water, most of which is marine and contained in...

ACTS & FACTS
Jesus Christ Is Our Perfect Mediator
We’ll never get bored throughout eternity. There is always something wonderfully new to learn about our precious Lord Jesus, the uplifting Holy...