We use dogs as our go-to sniffers for bombs and rescue missions. But how does our sense of smell compare?

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

Most people just assume we humans have a terrible sense of smell. But, that's just wrong. Our sense of smell is super powerful, maybe equal to dogs.

Researchers at Rutgers are challenging the idea that "dogs and rodents [are] some of the best sniffers in the animal kingdom." They posit humans are right up there with them.

Throughout history, human smell has been consistently downplayed. For example, you may have heard humans can smell 10,000 scents... Which is so wrong. 

10,000 is a rough estimate gleaned from experiments done in 1927 with 6,561 scents (they rounded up to 10,000)! It was a guess and wasn't even empirically tested.

Smell is difficult to quantify. Unlike the three colors of light, or specific wavelengths of sound, smell doesn't have a concrete base to start and experiment with -- every nose is different! Things like humidity, shape, size, age, and even language, individual experience, and behaviors can all mess with nose sensitivity.

 

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