Pheromones at Fifty - Ponds for Life

Pheromones at Fifty
Quentin Cooper finds out if humans can sense pheromones, the subliminal chemical language of scents that is a key means of communication between animals.

It is 50 years since the term was first used, and scientists now know how powerful such signals can be, or rather, how sensitive some creatures' noses are to the chemicals. Even before the word pheromone was invented, Charles Darwin showed how the smelliest crocodiles, ducks, goats and elephants were better at attracting mates. Pheromones even work under water, between lobsters for example.

Do humans make and use their own pheromones? We use a host of expensive scents and deodorants to conceal, augment or replace our bodily odour, but, suprisingly, no definite human pheromone has been isolated and identified. But it seems clear they must exist, otherwise, for example, how else would groups of women living in close proximity synchronise their menstruation?

Ponds for Life
There are almost 500,000 ponds in the UK countryside (not to mention another 2 million in our gardens), but the vast majority of them are in a deplorable condition.

Pond Conservation proposes to dig another 500,000 away from sources of pollution, because ponds, much neglected by ecologists, are the refuge for huge ranges of biodiversity.

They may even be the cradle of life itself. Quentin hears reasons to be cheerful about ponds.

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30 minutes

Last on

Thu 12 Feb 2009 16:30

Inside Science

BBC Inside Science

Adam Rutherford explores the research that is transforming our world.