Did viruses make mammals communicate with pheromones?

Mammals Made By Viruses

by Carl Zimmer

Source: Discover Magazine
Excerpt from the article at the link (above):

“The big picture that’s now emerging is quite amazing. Viruses have rained down on mammals, and on at least six occasions, they’ve gotten snagged in their hosts and started carrying out the same function: building placentas.”

My comments:

“The concept that viruses might play a fundamental role in the evolution of the complexity of cellular life, as here proposed, may seem novel to many, especially to evolutionary biologists (Villarreal, 2004, p. 310).”

Your article reminded me of past discussion on the evolutionary psychology yahoo group  that resulted from my mention of the 1532 genes and interactions among them in the context of sexual reproduction that requires the mammalian placenta (Lynch, Leclerc, May, & Wagner, 2011). I learned about the likely involvement of viruses when I was asked about the role of pheromones in species specific communication as might occur in a new human species—detailed by Greg Bear in 1999/2003 in two of his science fiction novels (see Bear, 2004). But his questions, presentation to the American Philosophical Society, and comments led me to LP Villarreal (2004), and other more recent works that contain background information on the involvement of viruses in the creation of new species (Villarreal, 2009; Villarreal & Witzany, 2009). These works make it more clear that “…viruses may well be the unseen creator that most likely did contribute to making us human (Villarreal, 2004, p. 322).”

Did they do this by epigenetically altering food acquisition behavior, pheromone production, and thus social behavior? Perhaps viruses are calibrating all mechanisms for both individual survival and for speciation across all species. If so, shall we credit them for all of Creation?


Bear, G. (2004). When Genes Go Walkabout. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 148(3), 324-331.

Lynch, V. J., Leclerc, R. D., May, G., & Wagner, G. P. (2011). Transposon-mediated rewiring of gene regulatory networks contributed to the evolution of pregnancy in mammals. Nat Genet, 43(11), 1154-1159.

Villarreal, L. P. (2004). Can Viruses Make Us Human? Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 148(3), 296-323.

Villarreal, L. P. (2009). Origin of group identity: viruses, addiction and cooperation. New York: Springer.

Villarreal, L. P., & Witzany, G. (2009). Viruses are essential agents within the roots and stem of the tree of life. J Theor Biol, 262(4), 698-710.

About James V. Kohl 1308 Articles
James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones. Recently, Kohl integrated scientific evidence that pinpoints the evolved neurophysiological mechanism that links olfactory/pheromonal input to genes in hormone-secreting cells of tissue in a specific area of the brain that is primarily involved in the sensory integration of olfactory and visual input, and in the development of human sexual preferences. His award-winning 2007 article/book chapter on multisensory integration: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences followed an award winning 2001 publication: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which was coauthored by disinguished researchers from Vienna. Rarely do researchers win awards in multiple disciplines, but Kohl’s 2001 award was for neuroscience, and his 2007 “Reiss Theory” award was for social science. Kohl has worked as a medical laboratory scientist since 1974, and he has devoted more than twenty-five years to researching the relationship between the sense of smell and the development of human sexual preferences. Unlike many researchers who work with non-human subjects, medical laboratory scientists use the latest technology from many scientific disciplines to perform a variety of specialized diagnostic medical testing on people. James V. Kohl is certified with: * American Society for Clinical Pathology * American Medical Technologists James V. Kohl is a member of: * Society for Neuroscience * Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology * Association for Chemoreception Sciences * Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality * International Society for Human Ethology * American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science * Mensa, the international high IQ society