Ever wondered about the nose of elephants? Is it just about size, or is there more to it? A new study has shown that its quality is as enhanced as it is long in size! The trunk of the African is composed of olfactory receptors coded by an astonishingly high number of genes that confer onto it the super power of smell: 2 000 of those babies, compared with 400 of such receptor genes in humans!
A new study says that elephants are the mammals who have been the most endowed when it comes to the sense of smell. Elephants were always known for their amazing faculty of smell, but lately, with the new study, we can appreciate their super-power much better. The African elephants, for instance, have a total of 2000 genes related to smell – we can only imagine how enhanced their noses are. This beats any other mammal species’ ability to smell and sniff.
The researchers examined over 10 000 olfactory receptor (OR) genes; thus it was found that elephants possess 2 000 of those. ORs are used to detect smell from the environment. Mind you, domestic dogs which are known for their incredible sense of smell have more twice as fewer! As for humans, they have only 400 different OR genes. So, now the mystery of the long elephant nose has been solved (more or less)! Its trunk is not uselessly long! One of the authors of the study, Yoshihito Niimura, attested to this fact in the following words: “Apparently, an elephant’s nose is not only long but also superior.”
Now, you must be wondering as to why do humans have so fewer OR genes. Is this supposed to mean that we are disadvantaged? Well, not really. The scientists have attempted to explain the low number: they say that it might be because of our sharp vision; hence compensating for it.
The specific abilities of each creature are according to its needs to live in its environment. Why would African elephants have such a developed sense of smell? Ah, the mysteries of life. The reason is not yet known. Scientists have allowed themselves to speculate though. A possible explanation might be because of the poor sight of the elephants. The inability to sense stimuluses from one’s environment would greatly decrease one’s quality of life; therefore, they use their sense of smell to make their way through their environment.