London, Jan 28 (ANI): It's the right nostril that helps pigeons navigate long distances of unfamiliar territory to find their way home, suggests a new study.
Biologist Anna Gagliardo of the University of Pisa in Italy and her collaborators have previously shown that pigeons may rely on odours carried on the wind-and not the Earth's magnetic field-to find their way home.
The team has now discovered that the two nostrils are not equally useful, reports New Scientist.
They crammed a rubbery paste into the left nostril of ten homing pigeons, and similarly bunged up the right nostril of another nine birds.
Then they strapped a miniature GPS data logger to the back of each bird and released them, some 40 kilometres from home.
The GPS trackers revealed that only if the right nostril was blocked do the pigeons lose their sense of direction. These birds stopped and explored more than normal birds, and they took more tortuous paths back home.
Pigeons with an obstructed left nostril navigated normally.
Although the researchers don't know exactly why the right side of the nose predominates when it comes to homing but they have suggested that it's because birds favour their right nostril for recognising odours that they can link to locations in the world. (ANI)