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These pheromones shape the social and sexual lives of some creatures, like invertebrates, insects and rodents, by attracting them towards evolutionarily compatible partners, which are desirable because they lead to better offspring.In these animals, genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)—part of the immune system—produce unique odors; when another animal gets a whiff, they’re either attracted or repelled based on immune compatibility.A small but growing trend in social media is to go nose first when it comes to romance: whether by throwing get-togethers that hook people up based on the smell of their T-shirt, like Pheromone Parties, or by matching people based on how similarly they smell the world, like the Israeli social network Smell Space.
I’d get stinky T-shirt samples, other people would get stinky T-shirt samples, and if by chance any two of us chooses each other’s odor, the NYU team will introduce us.
Smell Dating is the first mail-order smell dating service, but its creators aren’t the only ones wagering that we’re better at choosing partners through our noses than our eyes.
By sniffing other people’s body odor instead of swiping right on their photos, the thinking goes, we rely on primal bodily intuition.
“So much of we think of as taste is really smell,” says Richard Doty, director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.
When we smell and chew something, like a chocolate chip cookie, odor molecules travel to the back of the nose, where they dissolve into mucus and bind to olfactory receptor cells.