Pigeons are among the most naturally gifted navigators in the animal kingdom. And while we've only recently begun to shed light on why this is, humans have been using pigeon's innate homing abilities to our advantage for ages - and often in very unusual ways.

From an upcoming episode of PBS's NOVA scienceNOW on the inner workings of animal minds comes an astounding bit of avicular, WWII-era trivia:

During World War II, the same government agency that developed the atomic bomb was also secretly planning "Project Pigeon." Pigeons were trained to ride inside missiles and guide them by pecking them on a screen. In 1944, the project was cancelled in favor of other secret research - radar.

The NOVA scienceNOW episode What Are Animals Thinking? premieres on November 7th. Learn more over at PBS.