Researchers Discover Possible Supernatural “Sixth Sense” in Dogs
If you’ve ever wondered if your pooch has a sixth sense, you may be right…in a way. Scientists have discovered that cryptochromes (a type of light-sensitive molecule that exists in bacteria, plants and animals) allow some animals to detect magnetic fields. Whether this has to do with the sixth sense claiming that dogs can sense the supernatural or paranormal has yet to be determined (but we’re definitely hoping that’s true).
Humans are incapable of magneto reception (that is, the ability to sense magnetic fields). Having the ability to sense magnetic fields allows select animals (such as birds, insects, fish and reptiles) to perceive direction, altitude and location.
In this particular study, researchers investigated the presence of the mammal-version of this molecule called crypto cryptochrome 1 in the retinas of 90 animal species, and found its presence in the cones of dog-like carnivores such as dogs, wolves, bears, foxes and badgers. Researchers also found the presence of this molecule in orangutans, crab-eating macaque, the rhesus macaque and a few others. They did not, however, find this molecule in the eyes of cat-like carnivores such as cats, tigers and lions because they have their own way of looking at the world.
While this is called a “sixth sense,” this ability is actually tied to an animal’s vision. How exactly does this molecule help dogs perceive altitude? Well, the magnetic fields activate cryptochrome 1 in the retina and in turn, the dog sees it as the inclination of magnetic field lines relative to the Earth’s surface. While researchers are not completely sure how dogs and primates use these magnetoreception molecules in their day-to-day lives, foxes may hold a clue. While hunting, foxes are such more successful at catching their prey when they pounce on them in a northeast direction. For primates, this molecule may help with bodily orientation or it could be a trait that, due to evolution, is now largely unused and it’s therefore useless to them.
The next step is to prove that these mammals are benefiting from having cryptochrome 1 in their retinas and how they use it in their day-to-day lives. Up next: An all-dog cast of the reality shows “Ghost Hunters” and “Long Island Medium.”
More by Diana Faria