It’s in the Air

It’s in the Air,New Scientist
Scientists have long believed that pheromones, mysterious chemicals
common in many insects and mammals that communicate everything from
fright to sexual desire, could not be detected by humans. But
according to the British magazine New Scientist, new
research from a team at Rockefeller University shows that humans
may be able to pick up pheromone signals after all. The
researchers, led by geneticist Peter Mombaerts, discovered eight
DNA sequences in humans that are similar to genes for mouse or rat
pheromone receptors. But many questions still remain. In
particular, as the prevailing theory about phermones suggests, the
mere existence of pheromone receptors does not mean that they are
active. Could they just be vestigial remains of organs we inherited
from distant ancestors who did use pheromones to communicate? One
study at the University of Chicago showed in 1998 that menstruation
can be synchronized by pheromones, yet there’s little other
evidence of pheromonal communication between people. New Scientist
suggests that you might want to wait before rushing out to buy
perfumes claiming to contain pheromones. –Leif
Utne
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