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Olfactory sensitivity for putrefaction-associated thiols and indols in three species of non-human primate
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Zoology . Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5583-2697
2Instituto de Neuro-Etologia Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico.
Department of Medical Psychology University of Munich, Germany.
3Department of Medical Psychology University of Munich, Germany.
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2007 (English)In: Journal of Experimental Biology, ISSN 0022-0949, Vol. 210, no 23, 4169-4178 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Using a conditioning paradigm, the olfactory sensitivity of four spider monkeys, three squirrel monkeys and three pigtail macaques to four thiols and two indols, substances characteristic of putrefaction processes and faecal odours, was assessed. With all odorants, the animals significantly discriminated concentrations below 1 p.p.m. (part per million) from the odourless solvent, and in several cases individual animals even demonstrated thresholds below 1 p.p.t. (part per trillion). The detection thresholds of 0.03 p.p.t. for indol in Saimiri sciureus and Macaca nemestrina and 0.96 p.p.t. for ethanethiol in Ateles geoffroyi represent the lowest values among the more than 50 odorants tested so far with these species and are in the same order of magnitude as the lowest detection thresholds reported so far in the rat and the mouse. The results showed (a) all three species of non-human primate to have a highly developed olfactory sensitivity for putrefaction-associated odorants, and (b) a significant correlation between perceptibility in terms of olfactory detection threshold and carbon chain length of the thiols, and a marked effect of the presence vs absence of a methyl group on perceptibility of the indols tested in two of the three species. The results support the hypotheses that (a) between-species differences in neuroanatomical or genetic features may not be indicative of olfactory sensitivity, and (b) within-species differences in olfactory sensitivity may reflect differences in the behavioural relevance of odorants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 210, no 23, 4169-4178 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-39776DOI: 10.1242/jeb.012237Local ID: 51198OAI: diva2:260625
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2015-03-06Bibliographically approved

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