One of the most powerful, sexually-stimulating odors is released by male goats, suggests a study that found female goats ready themselves for mating the minute they whiff this pungent "eau de male goat."
Two of the study's biggest surprises are that the odor comes out of the head hair of males and that it smells like citrus.
Humans also release pheromones, so it makes one wonder what as-of-yet undiscovered compounds might be present in the hair of men.
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But this study was all about goats. Yukari Takeuchi and colleagues, led by Yuji Mori at The University of Tokyo, isolated a component of male goat odor - 4-ethyloctanal.
The researchers then presented this volatile odor component to female goats undergoing real-time brain scans. The scent immediately acted on the female goats' brains to turn their reproductive systems on.
"We are tempted to speculate that this is a clever reproductive strategy of the male goat to alter behavior and activity of the reproduction center in the female for mating by a single molecule," Takeuchi said in a press release.
He added, "In 4-ethyloctanal, we identified a novel chemical that had never been demonstrated in nature before."
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The study is the first to uncover a pheromone that activates what the researchers call "the central reproductive axis," a.k.a. the parts of the brain associated with sexual intercourse and reproduction.
Although the work was done in goats, the researchers say there is reason to think the findings could apply to other livestock, and perhaps even to humans.
Perfumes and colognes purporting to contain human pheromones are already on the market. But imagine what would happen if something comparable to the power of this goaty smell were bottled...
Photo: Böhringer Friedrich, Wikimedia Commons