Friday, 14 August 2015

Supersniffing Ants Smell Things Humans Can't

By Lindsay Dodgson, Live Science Contributor | August 13, 2015 12:00pm ET

Ants may be experts at sniffing out body odor, according to a new study that reveals these insects have a "high-definition ability" to detect tiny chemical changes in the pheromones other ants give off.

Scientists from the University of California, Riverside, studied how ants tell each other apart in their colonies based on tiny, nearly undetectable changes in how other ants smell. The research, published today (Aug. 13) in the journal Cell Reports, revealed how much ants' sniffing abilities may have been underestimated.

Social insects, like ants, detect each other's smells using sensors in their antennae. It was initially thought that ants used these smells to distinguish between friends and foes, but the new study suggests the insects' abilities go further than this.

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