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Understanding the Function of Pheromones in Mammals

Sep 6, 2008
Almost all mammals do release these pheromones for attracting their partners and also in order to send alarm signals. The mammals have found out the best use of these pheromones than human beings and they are getting benefited in all senses. We can distinguish the pheromones in mammals into two categories depending on their functions.

1. Releaser Pheromones

Many mammals (e.g., dogs and cats) deposit pheromones in and/or around their "territory". As these vaporize, they signal to other members of the species of the presence of the occupant of the territory.

Domestic rabbit mothers release a mammary pheromone that triggers immediate nursing behavior by their babies (pups). A good thing, too, as mothers devote only 5-7 minutes a day to feeding their pups so they had better be quick about it. This kind of pheromonal activity is also seen in pigs, cows and also chicks.

2. Primer Pheromones

Rats and mice give off pheromones that elicit mating behavior. However, the response for these pheromones is not immediate as it is in the releaser pheromones of mother rabbits and insects. Instead, detection of the pheromone primes the endocrine system of the recipient to make the changes, e.g., ovulation, needed for successful mating.

Primer pheromones are detected by the olfactory epithelium with which normal odors are detected and also in most mammals by the vomeronasal organ (VNO). The neurons leading from the VNO take a separate path into and through the brain.

The pheromonal attraction is more powerful than physical attraction in mammals. In goats, sheep, and pigs, male dominance in competition for females is determined by the strength of the male's pheromone - and not physical strength or beauty. The animals with the strongest pheromones have more confident threat displays without giving signals of fear.

This reduces the incidence of actual physical combat for females - especially among deer and moose. The pheromones of the male with the strongest pheromone cause a psychological castration of other males which helps remove them from competition. In pigs, the pheromone androstenone triggers the female's receptivity to the male.

This type of pheromone dominance may also apply to humans since many researchers think human pheromone responses are very similar to pigs. Truffles, which are a fungus that grows underground near oak trees in France and Italy, are highly valued as human aphrodisiacs. Pigs also are passionately attracted to truffles and are used to locate the truffles. So a man's pheromone smell may affect females more strongly than his good looks, money, or wit.

Not only in male-female cultures, have these pheromones played an important role in mother and the baby relationship bonding also. Many pheromones are air borne particles that pass through air after evaporation by the heat of the body. Some pheromones are heavy proteins that cannot be passed through the air by evaporation.

These are passed by physical contact such as by kissing or skin-to-skin contact. Kissing occurs in all human cultures and is a way of passing identification pheromones. When a mother kisses her baby, this increases the mother-baby bonding.
About the Author
Learn more about Phermones at http://phermonesguide.blogspot.com
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