Elephants may have better sense of smell than many other species

By Jennifer Pilgrim,

They say an elephant never forgets, but there may be a new fun fact revealed about the four-legged heavyset mammals.

In a new study, researchers compared the olfactory receptor genes of elephants against 13 other placental mammal species, and found that there are almost five times the olfactory receptor genes in elephants as compared to humans.

Olfactory receptors are special cells that capture airborne molecules and sends a signal to the brain, which creates a smell perception in almost all animals around the world. Although there is no significant research to suggest having more olfactory genes makes you a better smeller, reports Uncover California, the knowledge that a dog has more olfactory genes and can smell better than humans opens a gateway to suggest elephants are on the same boat.

"The functions of these genes are not well known, but they are likely important for the living environment of African elephants," said study author Yoshihito Niimura, a researcher at The University of Tokyo's department of applied biological chemistry, in a statement to Maine News. "Apparently, an elephant's nose is not only long but also superior."

It is known that elephants can find differences in smaller odor molecules than humans, but the research as to how their olfactory genes truly affect their sense of smell is still a bit fuzzy. Wild animals often use their senses of smell to determine what can and cannot be consumed within the wild, and determining where others of their species are located.

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