The Loh Down On Science

Fear Stinks

Researchers discover a special patch of cells that let animals smell fear.

Think Fear STINKS?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh, with the Loh Down on Science.

Saying you're right!

When scared, many animals release so-called alarm pheromones.

While scientists have long known animals emit these fear farts, the mechanics have been a mystery.

Until now.

Researchers from Switzerland's University of Lausanne collected air samples while--all right-- really. . . scaring mice. . . badly. Let's leave it at that.

Releasing these samples into the cages of other mice always elicited a typical fear response. The mice would run into a corner and remain motionless, suggesting they could SMELL fear in the air. . . sample.

The scientists then removed a special patch of cells from the nose of some mice--and repeated the experiment.

Sure enough, mice with nose jobs didn't bat a whisker at the airborne signals. Though they could still sniff out a cookie hidden in their bedding. Yay! This proved the patch was specially sensitive to alarm pheromones--like a fear sensor.

Do humans also have this cell patch? Yes, we do! Meaning: No need to remove our inner nose patch and scare us, Swiss scientists! We're good. Thanks.


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