Newts: Sun-Compass Orientation

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Science  15 Dec 1967:
Vol. 158, Issue 3807, pp. 1459-1461
DOI: 10.1126/science.158.3807.1459


Rough-skinned newts, captured from breeding ponds, oriented on courses that would have intersected the familiar shorelines at right angles, when released in a circular arena on land under the sun or moon. Pondward migrants oriented similarly. Reorientation failed under complete cloud cover and after 7 days of darkness in an environmental chamber, but persisted in newts whose eyes were excised and in those displaced more than 27 kilometers in darkness. Both normal and blind animals compensated for displacement in sunshine. Preliminary evidence suggests that alternative light receptors in blinded animals may be associated with the optic tectum. No evidence of olfactory guidance was observed.