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Kinesthetic Orientation in the California Newt (Taricha Torosa)

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Experiments were performed to test the possible role of the kinesthetic sense in the maintenance of the direction of travel in migrating newts. Two hundred and fifteen Taricha torosa were allowed to orient in an arena open only to the night sky and, after being spun, were allowed to orient again. One hundred and fifty-three came from the area in which the arena was located and sixty-two from a locality 39 airline miles away. "Unspun" newts oriented in the direction that they were travelling when first seen, and a roughly straight-line course was followed. Newts from the distant locality did not orient as well as those captured near the arena. After spinning, random movements or a route determined by the direction of release, was observed. It is concluded that a kinesthetic sense is probably important in helping these animals maintain a straight-line course during their migratory movements.

Affiliations: 1: Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, Calif., U.S.A.

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