Researchers Discover Lemurs Incredible Use Of Smell

Posted: Jul 2 2018, 9:34am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Researchers Discover Lemurs Incredible Use of Smell
Ring-tailed lemurs, Image Credit: David Haring

Injury Changes The Aroma In Lemurs And Other Lemurs Can Smell This Weakness.

Lemurs are ring-tailed adorable creatures that are only found in Madagascar Islands, according to new research study the aroma in Lemurs changes when they get injured, and the others lemurs can detect their weakness by the scents left by them.

This also creates an additional problem for the injured lemur because after discovering the weakness and inability to fight back, other males in the group show more aggressiveness towards them.

“Our study shows that physical injury from peers dampens an animal’s scent signature, and in a way that its counterparts can detect,” said Duke professor of evolutionary anthropology Christine Drea.

The research study was carried out at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and was submitted to the Journal of Scientific Reports.

While humans are always interested and curious in finding the weakness in other people they compete with and make use of strange methods to find them, these primitive animals can just sniff it off.

How they smell makes a big difference in the position a lemur holds in their groups, both the male and female lemurs have very strong scent glands in the genital parts, and they secrete a substance that leaves an intense foul smell.

Like many other animals, lemurs spread these smells to mark their territory, as a warning and for mating purposes. Just by the smell left by a female lemur, a male lemur can make out if she is ready for mating. This also attracts a lot of male lemurs to follow a single female and many a time results in conflicts and fights among them.

“The breeding season is a period of heightened stress,” Drea said. Males that are injured during this time “can’t sustain their olfactory signals.” In other words, they can’t realize their natural fragrance’s full potential because scent signals are energetically costly and can’t easily be faked to fool rivals or potential mates, Drea said.

The smell left by a lemur can vary a lot, the smelling signal left by them is a combination of 200 to 300 different kind of chemicals.

The odor is “quite pungent and musky,” said Rachel Harris, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral associate in evolutionary anthropology at Duke. “It’s not something you’d want to get a big whiff of!”

For the research the team collected scent samples from injured lemurs using cotton swabs, further tests by methods of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry unveiled the changes in the smell, injury decreased the number of chemical compounds they secreted by more than ten percent.

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