Women's sense of smell evolved to sniff out bad mates

A new paper in the journal Flavour and Fragrance points to an evolutionary explanation for women's superior sense of smell relative to men: they use it to sniff out genetic deficiencies in potential mates.

"Women have a larger interest in reproductive events because they have fewer opportunities for passing on their genes than men," said George Preti, a Monell Chemical Senses Center organic chemist…

"Men produce thousands of gametes every day, women just one every month," Preti said. "Their investment in a reproductive event is higher than men's, so they're more biologically attuned to who they're mating with."

Preti and other pheromone researchers suspect that mammalian olfactory systems actually evolved to detect chemical traces of genetic incompatibility in the odors of potential mates.

An Evolutionary Explanation for Sexual Smell Differences

(Image: Someone Sniffs, a Creative Commons Attribution licensed photo from Orin Optiglot's photostream)