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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: The Secrets of the 'Goaty Smell'
27 February 2014 12:00 pm
Spend any time in a barnyard and you’ll notice that male goats produce a characteristic “goaty smell” that repels humans, but attracts does. Through a phenomenon called the “male effect,” just the presence of a male sends females into heat. Scientists had long suspected that bucks emit a pheromone to turn on does’ reproductive systems, and they’ve finally found the active ingredient. By using a specially made gas-absorbing cap, the researchers collected scent compounds from the heads of male goats and compared them with compounds from castrated ones. They isolated individual chemicals and then tested whether they stimulated a response when females took a whiff. The compound 4-ethyloctanal starts a hormonal chain reaction in the female’s brain, which triggers ovulation, researchers report online today in Current Biology. When exposed to air, 4-ethyloctanal converts to 4-ethyloctanoic acid, which makes that “goaty odor.” So males can attract females and turn them on using the same compound.