Many insects produce a sex-attractant pheromoneby which one sex attracts the other from a distance. Rather than positing that single, pheromone-esque compounds strike us like Cupid's arrow, investigators now suggest that a suite of chemicals emitted from our bodies subliminally sways potential partnerings. Wysocki and his colleagues are currently seeking National Institutes of Health grants to find out just what the "magic bullet—or bullets—are in male body odor" that elicit female responses, he says. This classification is useful because it makes clear that various sense organs can share common features in the way they convert transduce stimulus energy into nerve impulses. The primary chemoreceptors in the gastropod body are scattered over the skin surface, protruding from tentacles or palps, and housed inside the mantle cavity in the form of the osphradium, an olfactory organ connected to the respiratory system. The study proposed two types of pheromone involved:
Despite their prevalence in scientific studies and consumer products, Tristram Wyatta zoologist at the University of Oxford, argued in a Proceedings of the Royal Society B paper that there was no scientific basis for claiming these molecules were pheromones at all.
Do Pheromones Play a Role in Our Sex Lives?
Sign up for our email newsletter. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. This organ has regressed in scaphopods, some cephalopods, and some gastropods. Odors given off by the breasts of breast-feeding women, for example, can render childless females downright randy—although a particular chemical messenger remains unidentified. Pluricellular mantle papillae, which penetrate the cuticle, the valves, and the shell in some conchifers, are differentiated in placophores as photoreceptors.