How Women Can Smell Out Their Mate

      May 23, 2009 08:14

      During the long process of evolution, females have developed the ability to determine whether a male is compatible or not through his scent, scientists say, and this is one of the reasons why women are more sensitive to smell than men. There is now even a website that uses scents to match people.

      This method of finding companions may sound ludicrous, but it is backed by science. Studies show that even strong perfume cannot block a woman's ability to smell her mate. A team led by Charles Wysocki, a researcher with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, has published a study that compared senses of smell among men and women in Flavour and Fragrance Journal.

      No matter how strong the scent, once it is mixed with another odor, the ability to distinguish between the smells becomes dulled. This is known as "cross-adaptation." Researchers gathered underarm odor and had both male and female test participants smell it. Next, they tried to get the subjects to undergo cross-adaptation by using various fragrances which were selected to test their ability to block underarm odor. When fragrance was introduced, only two of 32 scents successfully blocked underarm odor when women were doing the smelling, but 19 fragrances significantly reduced the strength of underarm odor for men. Researchers concluded that underarm odor was an important source of information that women use to assess their partners.

      Women were particularly sensitive to the underarm odors of men. When it came to smelling the underarm odors of other women, half of the fragrances used were effective in blocking the odor, but when it came to smelling men, only 19 percent of the fragrances were successful in blocking the odor.   

      How did women develop such an ability? In a paper in the March edition of the Quarterly Review of Biology, Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock of Cambridge University and Prof. Katherine McAuliffe of Harvard University said that unlike birds, mammals usually mate at night and as a result have developed the ability to seek out their mates using their olfactory powers. In the animal world, it is the females who usually choose their mates.

      The reason why a male peacock developed a splendid set of wings was to show off to a female in order to be selected as a mate. Many mammal species attain peak mating-capacity at night. But at that time, it is difficult to choose a mate through vision. As a result, a man's chromosomal traits are shown through odors.

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