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A functional role of the sky's polarization pattern for orientation in the greater mouse-eared bat

Stefan Greif, Ivailo Borissov, Yossi Yovel, Richard A Holland
Nature Communications 2014, 5: 4488
25050897
Animals can call on a multitude of sensory information to orient and navigate. One such cue is the pattern of polarized light in the sky, which for example can be used by birds as a geographical reference to calibrate other cues in the compass mechanism. Here we demonstrate that the female greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) uses polarization cues at sunset to calibrate a magnetic compass, which is subsequently used for orientation during a homing experiment. This renders bats the only mammal known so far to make use of the polarization pattern in the sky. Although there is currently no clear understanding of how this cue is perceived in this taxon, our observation has general implications for the sensory biology of mammalian vision.

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