Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You smell, Guambat smells, we all smell

Our Sense Of Smell Is Underestimated by: Christian Nordqvist
[I]t seems our ability to follow a scent is not that much different to that of a dog's, say researchers from the University of California Berkeley, USA.

Scientists asked 32 blindfolded volunteers, male and female, to follow 10-meter scent trails in a field from one end to the other. The trails were scented with chocolate oil. As well as not being able to see, the volunteers had to wear gloves and earplugs - making them dependent on their sense of smell. Two-thirds of the participants accurately followed the scent trails. The volunteers could be seen crawling on their hands and knees with their noses close to the ground.

To make sure it really was their sense of smell that was guiding them, the scientists made them try to follow a trail again, but this time with their noses plugged (blocked up) - everyone failed.
Everyone who succeeded was slower than animals. However, after a bit of practice all the humans improved significantly. The scientists also found that both nostrils are needed in order to follow the directions of a trail - "scent-tracking is aided by inter-nostril comparisons."

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