Smelling to Survive

Smelling to Survive

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Smell is arguably the least understood sense, yet it has always been a vital component of the human experience, and that of all living creatures.

It has been used by plants and animals for millions of years to warn, to attract, to identify, to navigate and even to mislead. Smelling to Survive explains some of these fascinating processes, and explores how the past would have smelt quite different to our ancestors, and how future technologies will further change the world of scents.

Along the way, leading scientist Bill S. Hansson recounts amazing stories from the world of olfactory research: from the tobacco plant that excretes an alarm odour, to mosquitos that cherish the smell of sweaty feet, to lilies that imitate the fragrance of a dead horse. Hansson explains why scientists are interested in the smell that surrounds teenage males, and how climate change affects the smell of our environment. He describes research trips to Christmas Island, where crabs with particularly keen noses crack coconuts on the beach, and outlines studies that reveal how penguins recognize their partner by their scent.