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Why Your Dog Can Remember Smells and You Can't

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Channel: Seeker
Categories: Biology   |   Psychology   |   Science  
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Dogs have some seriously impressive sniffers. But why are dog noses so powerful and how is it that they can remember precise smells over long periods of time?
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It all comes down to the structure of the nose and the sensory abilities of the brain. When the dog inhales, the nostrils pull in air packed with molecules that contain smells. A fold of tissue just inside the nostrils separates the airflow into two paths - one for olfaction or smells and one for respiration. This prevents the dog from immediately breathing out the smell like we do.

When they do exhale, air exits through different slits in the sides of their nose. This helps pull new odors into the nose through the nostrils and allows the dog to sniff practically continuously. It also helps that dogs can identify which nostril a smell came through so that they can locate which direction the smell is coming from.

After inhalation and separation from the air headed to the lungs, a small amount of air passes over turbinates. Turbinates are these plates of bony structures that contain scent-detecting cells. Theres even a separate section called the vomeronasal organ, which is used primarily for social interactions.

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