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Naturwissenschaften. 2008 Aug;95(8):761-5. doi: 10.1007/s00114-008-0377-9. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Tenebrio beetles use magnetic inclination compass.

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Department of Animal Physiology and Immunology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.


Animals that guide directions of their locomotion or their migration routes by the lines of the geomagnetic field use either polarity or inclination compasses to determine the field polarity (the north or south direction). Distinguishing the two compass types is a guideline for estimation of the molecular principle of reception and has been achieved for a number of animal groups, with the exception of insects. A standard diagnostic method to distinguish a compass type is based on reversing the vertical component of the geomagnetic field, which leads to the opposite reactions of animals with two different compass types. In the present study, adults of the mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor were tested by means of a two-step laboratory test of magnetoreception. Beetles that were initially trained to memorize the magnetic position of the light source preferred, during the subsequent test, this same direction, pursuant geomagnetic cues only. In the following step, the vertical component was reversed between the training and the test. The beetles significantly turned their preferred direction by 180 degrees. Our results brought until then unknown original findings that insects, represented here by the T. molitor species, use-in contrast to another previously researched Arthropod, spiny lobster-the inclination compass.

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