Lunar-modulated geomagnetic orientation by a marine mollusk

Science  16 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4786, pp. 331-334
DOI: 10.1126/science.3798115


Behavioral experiments indicated that the marine opisthobranch mollusk Tritonia diomedea can derive directional cues from the magnetic field of the earth. The magnetic direction toward which nudibranchs spontaneously oriented in the geomagnetic field showed recurring patterns of variation correlated with lunar phase, suggesting that the behavioral response to magnetism is modulated by a circa-lunar rhythm. The discovery of a magnetic sense in a mollusk with giant, reidentifiable neurons provides a unique opportunity to study the cellular mechanisms underlying magnetic field detection.