Incredible Journeys: Exploring the Wonders of Animal Navigation by David Barrie
I wrote Incredible Journeys (Supernavigators in North America) because I wanted to share my sense of wonder at the truly astounding abilities displayed by our fellow creatures.
My research took me right round the world and gave me the chance not only to interview many of the leading experts in the field of animal navigation studies, but also to take part in some fascinating experiments.
Incredible Journeys reveals the extraordinary variety of tools that animals – as diverse as ants, beetles, moths, butterflies, lobsters, birds, sea turtles, bats and fish – use to find their way around. These include landmarks, the light of the sun, moon and stars, the earth’s magnetism, sounds and smells – and even electric fields. Many mysteries remain – not least how exactly animals detect the earth’s magnetic field.
Incredible Journeys also touches on the astonishing discoveries of Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientists who are unravelling the complex brain circuitry that enables animals – including us humans – to navigate. To stay healthy, these circuits need to be exercised – and that means there are risks in relying just on our electronic gadgets to find our way around.
Incredible Journeys raises profound questions about our changing relationship with the world around us. While indigenous peoples like the Inuit of Arctic Canada or the islanders of the Pacific Ocean can still navigate without so much as a map or compass, most of us city-dwellers can barely find our way without the help of our GPS-enabled cell phones.
By abandoning traditional navigational methods, we’re losing touch with the world around us. And in the process we’re jeopardising not just our physical and mental health but our spiritual well-being too.
Incredible Journeys is published by Hodder and Stoughton in London, and Supernavigators by The Experiment in New York City. It is now being translated into Spanish, German, Polish, Russian, Mandarin and Japanese.