Market Smells II: Smell and Tell Walks (28 July Southwark London)

Why join us? We are conducting two Smell and Tell walks in Southwark. Come learn about your sense of smell and its evolution via two flash talks and a series of smell tests. The tests are not clinically diagnostic but provide a rough guide on how your sense of smell performs in different settings. When:Continue reading “Market Smells II: Smell and Tell Walks (28 July Southwark London)”

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Smelling in the Wild

With colleague Dr. Colette Berbesque (University of Roehampton), I am about to start two exciting new projects that focus on the human sense of smell in natural environments. One project will focus on how our sense of smell may be influenced by subsistence. Our project is a corollary study to work by the Sorokowskas andContinue reading “Smelling in the Wild”

Sex and Evolution?

I like Michael Stoddart’s books in general–he has some great contributions to make and is one of a few popular scientists promoting olfaction. While reading his most recent book, I have been a bit frustrated by the simplistic view of human evolution and behavior. A recent Guardian piece by him “Smell evolution and the sexContinue reading “Sex and Evolution?”

Is odorant diversity driving olfactory receptor genetic variation?

Olfactory receptor genes have more variation than most gene families in the human genome. The only family with greater diversity is the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Both families also exhibit high heterozygosity. Due to its association with disease, the MHC is well-studied. The explanation for the maintenance of MHC diversity is pathogen-driven selection–either through heterozygoteContinue reading “Is odorant diversity driving olfactory receptor genetic variation?”

Inhale for health

This research is a bit old (October 2013) but recently caught my eye: Research out of Japan shows that walking in the woods also may play a role in fighting cancer. Plants emit a chemical called phytoncides that protects them from rotting and insects. When people breathe it in, there is an increase in theContinue reading “Inhale for health”

The Scent of a Man

A new study (published here) suggest that scientists unable to replicate  behavioral studies in rats and mice may be due to the presence of male researchers. The presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing themContinue reading “The Scent of a Man”

The piggy smell of Eurasian genetic landscapes

Between 6000-4000 years ago (according to study published in Nature Communications), indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers acquired pigs from Neolithic farmers immigrating to Europe. I have been interested in Pleistocene pigs for a while (and their continued association with humans into the Holocene). The reason for my interest is that pigs produce a lot of androstenone (aContinue reading “The piggy smell of Eurasian genetic landscapes”

Clandestine trysts and human evolution

Recent advances in the field of paleogenomics (the study of ancient genomes) have uncovered the story of inter-species mating in those early days out of Africa before dispersal into Eurasia. Prior to these studies we’ve had little evidence supporting either cultural interaction with archaic humans or inter-breeding. Clandestine trysts or common practice? The draft sequence ofContinue reading “Clandestine trysts and human evolution”

Race and Anthropology in European Origins

In the US, our focus on race is centered on the enslavement of Africans and the consequences of those actions. The past 11 years have been wrought with new aspects of race and race relations. After 9-11, the often ill-treatment of anyone who appeared to be Arabic corresponded to the surge of emotions surrounding theContinue reading “Race and Anthropology in European Origins”

The evolution of the mammalian brain starts with smelling!

A study of CT scans of two early Jurassic period mammals reveals the brain evolution had three stages, the first of which was driven by olfaction. To read the original, go here. The next stage is characterized by an increase in tactile sensitivity from body hair and the third stage by skilled muscle movement using theContinue reading “The evolution of the mammalian brain starts with smelling!”