Smelling a Rat
|Neuroscientist at Bangalore’s National Center for Biological Sciences are smelling a rat. |
Rats, their research shows, smell in “stereo,” wherein their two nostrils operate independently, much as human ears. That would be exceedingly advantageous for survival, including locating food and evading predators.
“If you can smell in stereo, you can detect and localize it in one sniff, and you’ll have a decent chance of getting away (from a predator). If you have to look around, or take multiple sniffs to find the predator, you may get eaten,” says Upendra Bhallaco-author of the study “Rats Smell in Stereo,” published in Science magazine.
Bhalla’s lab trained rates could determine the direction of smell in under 50 milliseconds, 14 times faster than the 700 milliseconds human’s take.