We report on the presence of magnetic iron oxides in the migratory ant Pachycondyla marginata. Magnetic particles were extracted from different parts of the ant (head, thorax and abdomen) using magnetic precipitation methods. Electron spectroscopic images for iron and oxygen were obtained from the extracted particles, and, by using the corresponding electron micrographs, histograms of size distribution were constructed. Selected area diffraction patterns were also obtained from the particles, and analysis of these showed the presence of a mixture of different iron oxides, including the magnetic oxides, magnetite and maghemite. The size distribution of the particles in the abdomen is different from that in the thorax and the head. In accordance with the hypothesis of magnetic orientation based on the presence of magnetic material within the body, two regions of the ant, the head and the abdomen, could be implicated in the detection of the geomagnetic field.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists