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Pub Science: Pheromones - Nature's Cologne

Pub Science: Pheromones – Nature’s Cologne

You and me baby, ain’t nothing but mammals – but it seems that us humans are a little more complicated than the Bloodhound Gang’s description, at least when it comes to getting lucky (*wink wink* *nudge nudge*).

For humans, getting lucky is all about dressing well, being funny, and meeting the right person. For animals it is a much more, well, animalistic process. Why? It’s all thanks to a fun group of chemicals called ‘pheromones’.

Pheromones are generally “secreted chemical factors that trigger responses in members of the same species”, and their activity ranges from aggregation, alarm, and even sex. The first mammalian pheromone identified was “androstenone”, a pheromone found in high concentrations in the male boar’s saliva that made the female boars perform one of Meek Mill’s more famous songs.

But, why don’t humans have the same response? We’re all animals, right?
Well it comes down to two things:

  1. we don’t have a pheromone receptor organ, and
  2. we have trouble properly identifying any pheromones.

Nearly all animals have a special pheromone receptor organ located inside the nose called the “Vomeronasal Organ”, that sends signals triggered by pheromones to a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. It appears, however, that humans don’t have this organ (neither do birds, monkeys, or apes).

While we haven’t found the Holy Grail of human sex pheromones yet, researchers have been making progress in identifying potential candidates. A Swedish study from 2006 found that lesbian women responded differently to a male hormone (derived from progesterone), when compared with heterosexual women. Various other studies have been done on similar hormones with varying cohorts with different sexualities.

A lot of the studies, point in the same direction – that humans may communicate through pheromones. However, while a pheromone response may be elicited in humans, it is most likely very subtle, and probably way too subtle for you to rely on over your terrible ice-breaker pick-up line.

 

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