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Nosey research.

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date

Len of the Chilterns

Len of the Chilterns Report 15 Dec 2009 22:40

A recent study into dog’s noses by researchers from Pennsylvania State University has given a greater understanding into what makes them such superior sniffers.

Scientists have been aware for a long time that animals with an enhanced sense of smell have a nasal cavity with a specialised anatomical structure, but they weren’t fully aware of how air and odours flow once they are inside the nose.

To test the method of sniffing, the team created a special muzzle and applied it to seven dogs to monitor their technique. Despite differing weights and sizes of the samples being sniffed, the dogs all sniffed at approximately the same frequency- five times per second. Furthermore, the team created a computer model of the canine nose using magnetic resonance imaging, which allowed them to calculate the nostril’s aerodynamic reach.

Interestingly, the computer model showed each nostril actually took in a separate odour sample with each sniff, so it can tell which one is pulling in the scent. This helps them find the direction that the scent is coming from. Another interesting result of the study indicates that smells are actually retained in the nasal cavity instead of being exhaled like they are in humans.

The next possible steps on the back of this study are to assist in the development of artificial noses to help find trapped earthquake victims or target drug smugglers.