Author Topic: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?  (Read 280 times)

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Online Enkidu

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Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« on: May 12, 2017, 12:28:31 AM »
Is this really a myth? Crazy if true.

https://www.universal-sci.com/headlines/2017/5/11/its-a-myth-that-humans-sense-of-smell-is-inferior-to-that-of-other-animals-heres-why

Quote
Conventional wisdom has it that humans have a poorer sense of smell than most other animals. Sure, we can smell – most of us appreciate the aroma of our morning coffee or a delightful fragrance, and we’re able to detect burning toast or a gas leak. But we have nonetheless long been thought to be relative weaklings in the animal kingdom’s league of olfactory excellence, which puts dogs and rodents near the top.

But now a review of the latest evidence, published in the journal Science, challenges this idea. It suggests the very notion that humans lag behind stems from promulgation of a 19th-century myth.

Offline Noisy Rhysling

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Re: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2017, 09:00:36 AM »
Humans typically have 10,000 "smell receptors" in their nose. Grey wolves have upwards of 100,000. Predators track by smell when the prey is out of sight. Prey animals are likely to have less refined sense of smell, but their receptors are more numerous than ours in many cases.
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Offline drwfishesman

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Re: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2017, 01:18:41 PM »
Pretty standard evolutionary successful sense of smell

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Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2017, 02:43:48 PM »
Humans typically have 10,000 "smell receptors" in their nose. Grey wolves have upwards of 100,000. Predators track by smell when the prey is out of sight. Prey animals are likely to have less refined sense of smell, but their receptors are more numerous than ours in many cases.
Right, but per the article that's not the whole story:

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Even more interesting is that recent evidence has undermined the two foundations of Broca’s original assertion. On his first point, Broca was right to some extent. Humans have relatively small olfactory bulbs when calculated as a proportion of overall brain volume. In these terms, mice have olfactory bulbs 200 times the size of humans, while those of dogs are 40 times larger.

But a new technique that enables us to quantify the number of olfactory brain cells (neurons) in the respective bulbs of different species has yielded an extraordinary and unexpected result. Regardless of bulb size, the absolute number of neurons is remarkably similar across a range of species that otherwise vary widely in body size and apparent reliance on smell. It would appear that whether one is human, mouse, monkey or even star-nosed mole, there is a magic number of neurons – about 10m – that is necessary and sufficient to achieve olfactory function. In other words, it is the abundance of these neurons, not the size of the anatomical structures that houses them, that is important.
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Offline Redamare

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Re: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2017, 04:42:59 PM »
Interesting...

But I'd need to know how they determined that, of course.
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2017, 08:52:48 PM »
It was published in Science, so I'm guessing their methods were pretty good. 
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Offline Noisy Rhysling

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Re: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2017, 10:08:49 PM »
It was published in Science, so I'm guessing their methods were pretty good.
Or they're getting set up to be racked over the coals. The peer-reviewed do that once in a while.
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Offline Sawyer

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Re: Do Humans Really Have A Bad Sense Of Smell?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2017, 11:22:13 PM »
I take it everyone has already read the part of Surely Your Joking Mr. Feynman where he talks about smell, right?  Not exactly worthy of peer reviewed publication, but Richard Feynman pointed out how much olfactory input we ignore because we simply don't put our noses close to enough stuff.

 

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