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The Secrets of Pigeons

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The Secrets of Pigeons

By Tijn Touber, Ode Magazine

Rupert Sheldrake looks for answers to the inexplicable behaviours of animals — including humans.

How do pigeons always manage to fly straight home, no matter where they are dropped? How do they find their way back even if they’ve been sedated and taken hundreds of kilometres in a black box? How do they do it when they have been transported in a pen spinning 90 revolutions a minute? Do they smell their way home? No, even when their smell nerve has been severed, they still make it home safely.

Most scientists ignore such questions. But the British biochemist Rupert Scheldrake, educated at Cambridge and Harvard, is fascinated by the inexplicable behaviour of animals. Sheldrake, believes that information – memory – is not stored in the brain. He speaks of a ‘morphogenetic’ field: a web of memory that connects generations of creatures so that the experiences of one are beneficial to all.

The morphogenetic field is an information carrier that living beings can tune in to. Sheldrake implies that pigeons tune into the field because the information about the location of their home is stored there. They are linked to their home and to one another by invisible threads. Animals probably use this field to communicate with each other instantly, as do schools of fish that move in unison.

This morphogenetic field could also explain why the colonies of albatrosses taken from an island in the Pacific Ocean and let go 5,000 kilometres away on the American west coast managed to get home 10 days later. Or take dogs, for example. Countless experiments using video cameras hooked up to timers show that dogs ‘know’ when their owner is coming home. No matter how far in the future that moment is or how arbitrary, the dog points his ears, jumps off the sofa and waits obediently by the front door.

Next: telepathic communication

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Megan, selected from The Intelligent Optimist

Ode, the magazine for Intelligent Optimists, is an international independent journal that publishes positive news, about the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better.

140 comments

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4:44AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Interesting article, buy why spin the pigeons around and sever their nerves?

4:30PM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

And morphogenetic’ field reminds me of animal magnetism that got mesmer thrown out of austria back in the day... Good movie, Alan Rickman, watch it.

4:29PM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

over all, a very cool article. The finger thing reminded me of how for 'no reason' my dad photocopied only his left hand, printed a bunch of copies, doodled even on the ring finger (he likes to draw) and a few days later popped that finger off "like a cartoon cigar" he said.

4:26PM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

wait.. spun in a box at 90 revolutions a minute ? Who the feck does that to a bird just to see what happens?? Oh wait, MONKEYS. smh

5:41AM PDT on Jul 17, 2010

How fabulous! The Zero Point Field, must look that up. It's good to know that scientists are becoming more open-minded!

10:18AM PDT on Jun 28, 2010

this is wonderful, its lovely to read up on positive information about pigeons as opposed to the usual drissle that people reckon about pigeons. animals have a lot more going on than people realise.

10:35AM PDT on Jun 14, 2010

You are so welcome, Joy!!!!! Many Hugs************~Laurie~

12:01PM PDT on Jun 6, 2010

Zero Point Field. Fascinating. I've known these things for a long time but not that there was scientific evidence. I also found the information about the termite queen fascinating.
Ha ha even my Mom's dog has apparently tuned into my frequency. Whenever I stop by her place she tells me she knew I was coming because her dog was going crazy. The lil mutt loves me, go figure.
I would add spiders to the list as well. When I rescue them from my bathtub they usually try to scurry away until I start reassuring them that I'm just trying to save them. Then they stop and climb onto my hand. They may not understand the words but they always understand my intent.

5:49AM PDT on May 26, 2010

Very interesting indeed. Thanks for sharing.

4:25PM PDT on May 24, 2010

My father loved wild birds and doves would perch on his shoulder I had beautiful phots but at least some were taken by intruders into my home

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