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Do mammals recognize the scent of their own dead species

 
 
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 09:20 am
It's summer and the roadkill is in bloom. Driving past a large, decaying something (deer, I would guess) got me wondering if mammals with a much better sense of smell than humans could recognize the smell of one of their own as the corpse rots. In other words, would a dog identify the odor of a decaying dead dog, or a deer recognize the odor of a decaying dead deer? I assume urine, feces, hormones, etc., would be scent-identifiable and specific to each particular species.

I realize this would be almost impossible to quantify in the field, and that may be why I can't find any studies about it. Well, that and the fact that it might not be something that is very useful to know.
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 09:57 am
@Trilobite me,
They don't normally encounter one another in a state of stink and rot. Perhaps in the first minutes of death -
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 10:49 am
@Trilobite me,
I happen to be a mammal, so I can speak with some expertise on this matter.

I can report that I am able to recognize the scent of something rotting. I can't tell if what is rotting is human, or some other animal (although I can distinguish rotting fish from other animals).

I hope this is helpful. If you want to ask me any other questions about what it is like to be a mammal, I am here.

roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 12:24 pm
@maxdancona,
You're on! Do you consider fish to be a lesser species? How about insects?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 12:37 pm
@roger,
Mammal does not designate a species, it is a class. I happen to be part of the species Homo Sapiens (commonly known as "humans"). We are just one of the many species that fit under the clase mammalia. For that matter "fish" and "insect" are also not species.

But to answer your question, most individuals of the Homo Sapiens species consider all other life forms to be less important. I personally kill fish for sport and for food, and I often kill insects as pests. I have never taken the life of a fellow human, nor would I ever want to.



roger
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 01:46 pm
@maxdancona,
You're right about species. Still sounds like a somewhat bigoted attitude.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 01:53 pm
@roger,
That is not surprising. Bigotry is a fairly common trait that you see in human as well as many other species. I think that bigotry is common among social primates in general. When it comes to ensuring a constant supply of resources, there is a clear evolutionary advantage to bigotry.

There are many animals, including non-mammals, that regularly kill other species.

Cheetahs killing gazelles for sport (which sometimes they do) might be an example of bigotry. Ants killing beetles somehow doesn't seem like the same thing.

Ants in different colonies, even from the exact same species, will have brutal wars over resources.
roger
 
  3  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 01:54 pm
@maxdancona,
Just pulling your leg. I'm glad it didn't come off in my hand.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  4  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 03:50 pm
@Trilobite me,
I suspect that most mammals (many of which have much better senses of smell than we do) can easily tell if a dead thing is/was a member of their own species. There are probably all kinds of specific musks and pheromones still lingering even long after death.

I'm less convinced that they care at all that one of their own species has died.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 08:13 pm
@Trilobite me,
anybody or any species (except maybe a bird) could smell a dead skunk in the middle of the road. Ill bet it stinks to high heaven.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Jun, 2017 08:28 pm
@rosborne979,
There is no evidence that most mammals have a better sense of smell than humans. That is a myth.

New York Times wrote:
This belief isn’t based on empirical evidence, but on a 19th-century hypothesis about free will that has more in common with phrenology than with our modern understanding of how brains work. In a review published Thursday in Science, John P. McGann, a neuroscientist who studies olfaction at Rutgers University, reveals how we ended up with this myth. The truth is, humans are actually pretty good at smelling our world.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/science/human-sense-of-smell-nose.html



I am very skeptical that any mammal could smell the difference between a corpse of their own species and the corpse of another species. Humans don't seem to have this ability... nor do I see an evolutionary advantage to such an ability.

I think I have read that there are death pheromones in some social insects, but in an programmed insect colony such a thing does have a evolutionary advantage.
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jun, 2017 01:19 am
Elephants are able to recognize the corpse of another elephant, even if the corpse is skeletal.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Mon 26 Jun, 2017 07:21 am
@maxdancona,
are you speaking of selectivity or sensitivity. The most modern Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometers hqve only a minor amount of sensitivity over a scent hound or a bear. A good scent hound like a basset or a bloodhound can detect scents in the high part per TRILLION range. Humans, at best can detect in the low pert per million range and even thats not too common in our entire family.

I did a quick hunt on animals with the most olfactory sensor genes and its THE ELEPHANT. Hes got like 1794 OR genes aheras human and mot primates hqve less than half that. Thats primarily an issue with SELECTIVITY no sensitivity.
I gotta get back to the woods , Ill see if I cant "hey google" up something on sensitivity
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jun, 2017 07:31 am
@farmerman,
from NATURE:
Quote:
Researchers have estimated that a bloodhound’s nose consists of approximately 230 million olfactory cells, or “scent receptors” — 40 times the number in humans. Whereas our olfactory center is about the size of a postage stamp, a dog’s can be as large as a handkerchief — according to Allen, it is among the largest in canines. “The physical size of their olfactory area far exceeds most other working scent dogs,” he says. “The larger capacity combined with the desire to work makes them a very good tool.”

When a bloodhound sniffs a scent article (a piece of clothing or item touched only by the subject), air rushes through its nasal cavity and chemical vapors — or odors — lodge in the mucus and bombard the dog’s scent receptors. Chemical signals are then sent to the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain that analyzes smells, and an “odor image” is created.


THis addresses the "Sensitivity" part. Bears and hounds,rats nd buzzards and alligators all have olfactory sensors in the upper end and are therefore able to sniff out stuff at fairly low concentrations.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jun, 2017 07:49 am
@farmerman,
That's interesting Farmerman, you are making me reconsider the issue. Thank you.

Let me do some reading.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Jun, 2017 09:48 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
There is no evidence that most mammals have a better sense of smell than humans.

I guess the border patrol should replace all their drug-sniffing dogs with drug-sniffing people.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 26 Jun, 2017 10:07 am
@rosborne979,
Quote:
I guess the border patrol should replace all their drug-sniffing dogs with drug-sniffing people.


Hmmmmm.... that is an interesting question. I wonder if it has been tested.

I can certainly smell marijuana on people's clothes, and I am not even getting my nose right up next to them.
0 Replies
 
 

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