Migratory birds use a magnetic compass in their eye for navigation. Its basic sensory mechanisms have long remained elusive, but now researchers reveal exactly where in the eye, the birds’ control center for navigation is situated.

The researchers went on to determine Cry4s structure and localization within the retina of the eye using ABACUS 2.0. They sequenced migratory European robin Cry4 from the retina and used it to predict the structure of the Cry4 protein.

Researchers have discovered that the long sought after protein in migratory birds are situated exactly at the outer segment of the so-called double cone photoreceptor cells in the retina of the bird (this is a European robin). Cry4 is unique to birds and therefore could endow them with the sixth sense.

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Illustration: Ilia Solov’yov.