What The Nose Knows

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Ever since sexually – reproducing creatures dragged themselves from the sludge of a burgeoning world, whether as bugs or reptiles, mammals or birds, the boys and the girls have been chasing each other through the jungle.

And yet it’s only recently that scientists have been on the trail of understanding the elusive aromas and undetectable scents that draw males and females together. Even today, the science of pheromones remains a largely unsolved puzzle. It is the world of biopsychology, a place somewhere between the “you and what you are” and the “you and who you think you are,” and much of it is up your nose. It’s a story about old T-shirts and shoeboxes with nose-holes in them, about hamsters and hucksters and sex and, of course, the search for the vomeronasal organ.


Martha McClintock David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor and Chair
Committee on Biopsychology at the University of Chicago.