Many creatures including our fellow primates the New World Monkeys rely on highly specific scent molecules called pheromones to find a suitable mate. Even our humble mammal cousin, the mouse, was found to have 140 genes just for pheromone receptors when its genome was completely sequenced earlier this year.
But humans are clueless when it comes to pheromone signals, according to University of Michigan evolutionary biologist Jianzhi "George" Zhang. He believes color vision put our pheromones out of business.
Our closest relatives on the primate family tree rely on "sexual swelling" and gaudy, colorful patches of skin to signal their reproductive fitness and fertility, Zhang said. In fact, though humans and these apes still carry genes that should create pheromone receptors in our noses, these genes have mutated to the point that they are merely pseudogenes---they dont function any more.
Karl Leif Bates | EurekAlert!
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