So I read a cool article yesterday: How a Kitty Walked 200 Miles Home: The Science of Your Cat’s Inner Compass
Some animals have the most extraordinary navigational abilities. Some days it seems like there’s nothing new for science to discover when it comes to the mammals we’re so familiar with, like birds and cats, but really, we’ve barely scratched the surface. The article above shares an anecdote about someone’s cat: the cat belonged to a local family, had been lost on a trip two months earlier, and had traveled 200 miles (322 km) in that time to arrive back in her hometown. Scientists have no idea how the cat was able to do that.
We do understand how some animals navigate. Dung beetles use the stars, as do seabirds (seabirds use the sun too). Some use Earth’s magnetic fields; sea turtles are born with a magnetic map of the ocean in their heads, allowing freshly hatched babies to run to the ocean and find feeding and breeding grounds. Of course, we’re not sure how exactly they sense and use magnetic fields to navigate, but we know that’s how they’re doing it. Seabirds get lost when it’s overcast, and sea turtles will go the wrong way when presented with artificial magnetic fields. Many animals can also sense things we can’t; a dog’s sense of smell is a prime example.
Maybe this is a reminder for us human beings to keep in mind that there’s more to our world – even the more obvious parts of our world – than we know.
For further reading: Watch: How Far Do Your Cats Roam?