Something in the Air

a young caveman is in love with many hearts around him
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Good looks may be the obvious influence in human attraction, but there can be another hidden factor also in play – scent.

Apart from salivating at the smell of a steak broiling or sniffing at a rose, we don’t give a lot of attention to the role of olfactory stimulation in our lives.

However, human pheromones are the equivalent of the wild scent broadcast by many animal species to attract a partner. They can set off an unconscious reaction, and we often respond in exactly the same way that a moth or dog might.

What Are Pheromones?

Regardless of how advanced civilization becomes, humans are still slaves to a great extent to inborn instincts and responses. Among the things that people will react to, often on a subconscious basis, are human pheromones.

The word ‘pheromone’ was added to the language way back in 1959 when the silk moth pheromone, bombykol, was discovered. Females of many moth species dispense a veritable love drug when the time has come to lay eggs, and males will be drawn from miles around at the summons. When there is an infestation of gypsy moths, the air must be positively thick with this aphrodisiac.

Although responses to human sweat and urine indicate the presence of some kind of pheromones, the ability to identify the particular substance has been elusive. However, simply because science has not be able to isolate human pheromones doesn’t mean that they do not exist.

Pheromones in Action

While it has been well documented that young women in a college dormitory will all eventually synchronize their menstrual periods, lactating women also have an impact on women who have no children of their own. The childless woman will be sexually stimulated, and will seek out sex with a man, seemingly in a subconscious urge to have a baby, too.

For a long period of time, it was thought that people were unable to distinguish sex pheromones at all since the VNO, or vomeronasal organ, is either very small in humans or absent altogether. This organ is quite robust in animals, but exists at the expense of color vision.

However, experiments with people who were determined not to have a VNO found that they responded to certain olfactory signals just as well as those who were thought to have this organ.

An experiment conducted several years ago at a dentist’s office offers at least anecdotal proof of the existence of human pheromones. The researcher placed a few drops of male urine on one of the chairs in the waiting room. Throughout the day it was observed that men avoided the chair, even preferring to stand if that was the only open seat.

Women, on the other hand, zeroed in on the chair like homing pigeons. Not only was this the female seat of choice, but women would leave their current seat and sit there if it became vacant.

A number of other tests have shown that humans from infants to adults will react in different ways to pheromones. Babies will prefer clothing worn by their mothers, and men will typically react more favorably to women, and have elevated testosterone levels, when given the opportunity to smell female secretions. Which all goes to show that no matter how advanced humans become; we’re all still animals under the skin.

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Lex Cavemen

LEX is the scientist. He is obsessed with understanding why and how the world around him works the way it does.

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