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We can ‘smell’ as well as dogs

A neuroscientist has stated that human olfactory abilities are second to none. When it comes to certain smells in particular our smelling prowess can match even that of dogs, which have higher concentration of olfactory receptors in their noses.

In the case of some scents, such as amyl acetate, the main odorant in bananas, humans in fact outdo dogs says a study led by John McGann, a neuroscientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey and who has spent 14 years studying olfactory systems.

In the area of detecting odours, human abilities have been historically sniffed at. “Man smells poorly,” said Aristotle. Going beyond, Charles Darwin mused that the sense of smell was of “extremely slight service” to the civilised human. The new scientific study not only challenges this long held belief but suggests that our sense of smell may in fact rival that of dogs and rodents.

McGann states that the human olfactory bulb is larger than it is in many mammals in absolute terms. Similarly, the number olfactory neurons is remarkably consistent across mammals. “We went to the medical school and looked at a human brain,” he said. “We put the human bulb next to the mouse bulb and gasped. It was gigantic.”

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