A Candidate Magnetic Sense Organ in the Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares

Science  18 May 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4650, pp. 751-753
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4650.751

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Single-domain magnetite crystals have been isolated and characterized from tissue located in a sinus within the dermethmoid bone of the skull of the yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares. Their chemical composition, narrow size distribution, and distinctive crystal morphology indicate that these crystals are biochemical precipitates. Experiments on the interaction between particles reveal the organization of the particles in situ and suggest a possible form for candidate magnetoreceptor organelles. The consistent localization of such particles with similar arrangement within the dermethmoids of this and other pelagic fishes suggests that the ethmoid region is a possible location for a vertebrate magnetic sense organ.