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The chemosensory functions of the human nose are underappreciated. Traditional teaching is that the sense of smell detects volatile compounds, which may then allow the identification of substances that may be beneficial or harmful--such as good versus putrefied food. However, increasing evidence from research in other animals suggests that olfaction may serve another and more important purpose, that of mate selection in sexual reproduction; indeed, olfaction may be an essential impetus for evolution.

Original publication




Journal article


J R Soc Med

Publication Date





268 - 274


Animals, Female, Humans, Major Histocompatibility Complex, Male, Mice, Olfactory Bulb, Pheromones, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Behavior, Animal, Smell, Vomeronasal Organ