Research: Why does the chicken cross the road?

WolfgangWiltschko_200w.jpgProgress comes slowly on the question “Why does the chicken cross the road?” But come it does. The answers (for there seem to be many) strut in jerkily from different directions. A new study explains that magnetic fields play some sort of role, at least sometimes, in chickens’ decisions to navigate hither or yon.

The study has a title that seems swiped from a children’s book: The Magnetic Compass of Domestic Chickens, Gallus gallus. Published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, a publication that generally does not cater to youngsters, it adds flesh and feathers to the sketchy picture revealed in an earlier report called Chickens Orient Using a Magnetic Compass….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.