I figured it would be fun to make my final blog on scent a bit lighthearted.  Here are some of the unusual ways scent is important to life that you might not have known.

  1. Sniff and Swim:  Scientists have long wondered how exactly sperm cells find an egg to start conception.  It turns out that sperm cells smell the aroma of the ovaries and egg cells and then begin their mad swim toward them.  It is a process referred to as attraction chemotaxis.  Interestingly, it turns out that as good as mice are at smelling cheese in a maze and finding it, mice sperm are even better at finding mice eggs than are adult mice at finding cheese.
  2. Sniff and Suck:  The sense of smell is the first of all our senses to develop.  Even before we are born, our sense of smell is fully formed and functioning.  Within a couple minutes of birth, newborn infants follow the breast odors emanating from their mother's nipple region causing a head turning of the baby for the nipple and helps guide the baby to successful sucking for milk.  Shortly thereafter newborns are able to easily recognize their own mother's unique odor which builds mother-infant attachment.
  3. The Fine Smell of Old Age:  Age smells better in things other than cheese.  In most of the animal kingdom, females prefer the smell of older males.  While science has yet (I stress the word yet) to definitively identify the role of sexual attraction pheromones in the world of humans they are the most essential aspect to most all mammal mating.  Take pachyderm love for example.  Female elephants much prefer the scent of older males to their younger counterparts.  Given the choice, female elephants nearly always choose the scent of the older male.  As technologies improve for identifying scent, there is no doubt that a rather subtle but complex human pheromone taxonomy will be discovered.  It is interesting to speculate if a good smell and wrinkles will be chosen over muscles and a full head of hair.
  4. Book ‘em Danno:  Forget fingerprints, criminals will soon be identified by the scent that they leave behind.  New crime scene analysis techniques are proving that human scent can remain at the scene of a crime for days or longer and that the unique chemical signature of an individual’s smell is far more complex and identifying than is their fingerprint. 
  5. What the TSA Nose:  We are only a step or two away from a person’s passport being imprinted with their individual, unique smell.  Science has proven that a person’s individual scent is a more complex and accurate identifier than is their finger print or retinal pattern.  Trials are underway now mapping passports with scent and providing TSA officials with training on scent detection equipment.
  6. A New Nose Monthly:  You scent cells are renewed every 28 days.  So in reality, you get a new nose every month.
  7. Smell is Smart and Sensitive:  Smell is the most sensitive of the senses. People can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year, while visual recall is about 50% after three months
  8. Women Smell Better:  A woman’s sense of smell is much stronger than a man’s. It is heightened even more in the first half of the menstrual cycle and reaches its peak when she is most fertile.
  9. Smell is Everywhere:  Historically, scientists believed quite logially that all our odor receptors were located in the nose and olfctory system, the same was our vision receptors are found in the eye and visual systems.  Scientists around the world are now finding that odor receptors are not confined to the nose, they are actually located all throughout the body.  Several papers have been published during the last few years, revealing olfactory receptors in skin, testes, lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, muscles, colon, sperm, and the list goes on. Another study suggests that odor receptors are a necessary component of the system that causes stem cells to morph into muscles cells and replace damaged tissue.

Convinced yet that there is more to scent then you ever thought?  

Published by Sadie