Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Does your dog smell in stereo?

It would never have occurred to me that a dog can't tell which smells come from his left and which come from his right. Dogs and humans both have two eyes that see in stereo and two ears that hear in stereo. It seems only common sense that our noses would work the same way.

But then, I'm not a scientist and don't make my living by proving stuff. The weight of scientific opinion, apparently, has until now been that stereo sniffing (at least for moles) is impossible because their nostrils are too close together.
He can't see. How did they expect him to find food if he can't tell where smells are coming from?
Amazingly (to the scientist who conducted the study) the impossible proved to be true. Moles with unblocked nostrils headed straight toward scientifically hidden earthworms. Moles with one nostril blocked made a few false starts, but eventually went in the right direction. Moles with tubes in their nostrils had no trouble either. However, if the scientists put tubes into the moles' nostrils and then crossed the tubes, so that the scent always seemed to be coming from the wrong direction, the moles were completely unable to find their worms.

The shocked scientist now says that all his assumptions have been turned upside down and that his ground breaking new research now "suggests other mammals that rely heavily on their sense of smell, like dogs and pigs, might also have this ability."

He still doesn't think humans can do it, and I'm not going to volunteer to have tubes in my nostrils for him to find out.

suggests other mammals that rely heavily on their sense of smell, like dogs and pigs might also have this ability