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The Dog’s Sense of Smell

The Dog’s Sense of Smell

What accounts for the dog’s superior sense of smell?

  • A dog’s nose is wet and is therefore better able to capture scent particles.

  • A dog’s nose has two airways​—one for breathing, another for smelling. When a dog sniffs, air is directed to the part of the nasal cavity that contains scent receptors.

  • A dog’s olfactory region can measure 130 square centimeters (20 sq in.) or more, whereas a human’s measures only 5 square centimeters (0.8 sq in.).

  • A dog can have up to 50 times as many scent receptor cells as we do.

All of this enables a dog to differentiate between the components of a complex scent. For example, we can smell soup, but a dog can detect every ingredient in the recipe, according to some experts.

A bowl of soup is superimposed on a man’s head, but every ingredient in the recipe is superimposed on a dog’s head

Researchers at the Pine Street Foundation, a cancer research institute, say that the dog’s brain and nose work together to be “one of the most sophisticated odor detection devices on the planet.” Scientists are developing electronic “noses” to detect explosives, contraband, and disease, including cancer.

What do you think? Did the dog’s sense of smell evolve? Or was it designed?

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