Humans can do what?

Science 21 March 2014: Vol. 343 no. 6177 pp. 1370-1372

Humans Can Discriminate More than 1 Trillion Olfactory Stimuli

Reported as:

Humans can distinguish at least one trillion different odors, study shows

Excerpt: “You might move to some part of the world where you’ve never encountered the fruits and vegetables and flowers that grow there. But your nose is ready. With a sensory system that is that complex, we are fully ready for anything.” — Leslie Vosshall

My comment to Science Magazine  (submitted but not published to their site):

I would have erred had I not cited other works by Vosshall and Keller in the concluding sentence of my 2012 review: “Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors.”

“Socioaffective neuroscience and psychology may progress more quickly by keeping these apparent facts in mind: Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans (Keller et al., 2007; Kohl, 2007; Villarreal, 2009; Vosshall, Wong, & Axel, 2000).”

Now that our detection abilities have been evaluated, I wonder why there is no mention of our ability to detect species-specific social odors, called pheromones. It’s become obvious that conserved molecular mechanisms link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in species from microbes to man. Other recent reports attest to that fact:

1) “Detecting Fat Content of Food from a Distance: Olfactory-Based Fat Discrimination in Humans
2) “The Scent of Disease: Human Body Odor Contains an Early Chemosensory Cue of Sickness

Therefore, in the context of our detection abilities, I think others may have erred by not citing one of my other reviews: “Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model

Clear attestations to the plasticity of our olfactory system, which links ecological variation to ecological adaptations, now suggest that “adaptive evolution” should be called ecological adaptation. In the presence of food odors and nutrients that metabolize to species-specific pheromones that control the physiology of reproduction, ecological adaptation is what’s expected to occur.

What this latest report now shows is the degree of fine-tuning that is possible after ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction has already occurred — and resulted in the nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled increased organismal complexity that is us.

Now that Mainland et al have published “The missense of smell: functional variability in the human odorant receptor repertoire” and Foote et al have published “Tracking niche variation over millennial timescales in sympatric killer whale lineages,” the similarities at the top of the aquatic and terrestrial food chains attest to the power of conserved molecular mechanisms to link cause and effect across all species via olfaction and odor receptors, which is what I detailed in the review I submitted last week.



It’s been more than a week since I submitted the comment above. Since other comments I have submitted have always been published within 5 days of their submission, I published the comment above to The Scientist. See: The Nose Knows

The human nose can differentiate more than a trillion odors, a study finds.

By Rina Shaikh-Lesko | March 25, 2014


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