The magnetic characteristics of 15 western Atlantic spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus) were analysed with a superconducting cryogenic magnetometer. Each specimen possessed a significant natural remanent magnetization (NRM) and isothermal remanent magnetization (IRM), indicating that ferromagnetic material is present. Analyses of the distribution of total remanence and mass-specific remanence indicate that magnetic material is concentrated in the cephalothorax, particularly in tissue associated with the fused thoracic ganglia. Mass-specific remanence and the total quantity of magnetic material in the cephalothorax and abdomen both increase as functions of carapace length.
The NRM is significantly orientated in at least four regions of the body. The NRM of the left half of the posterior cephalothorax is directed posteriorly, while that of the right half is orientated anteriorly. In addition, the NRM of the middle cephalothorax is orientated toward the right side of the animal; the NRM of the telson-uropods region is directed toward the left. The functional significance of these regions of orientated remanence is not known, but such a pattern could result from the ordered alignment of permanently magnetic particles comprising a magnetoreceptor system.