What is highly sensitive to scent and can recognise the direction of the
faintest odour? A dog’s nose!
Customs officers use dogs to find drugs in luggage. Police use canines to
trail an escaped criminal. Emergency workers depend on man’s best friend
after a natural disaster to find survivors trapped under rubble.
Dogs’ sensitive sniffing ability is due to the olfactory recess in their
nasal cavity. It takes up about half the space inside its nose, sits just
behind its eyes, and looks like a tangled mass of twisted airways.
Recently Brent Craven of Pennsylvania State University studied the
aerodynamics of the air and odours flowing inside a dog’s nose.
1 He and
his colleagues put air-monitoring muzzles on seven breeds of dogs, including a
Labrador and a Pomeranian, and filmed their sniffing (when tempted with spoons
of peanut butter or tuna) on high speed video.
It turns out that dogs sniff at the same rate at which they pant — five
sniffs per second. And the researchers were surprised to discover that dogs
can sniff independently with each nostril. With each nostril pulling in a
separate odour sample, Craven explained, the dog knows which direction a scent
is coming from. The researchers also found that dogs retain the smell in their
maze of scent receptors even after they have exhaled.
If you are looking for a highly sensitive, directional, rapid response,
mobile, internally powered, rechargeable, odour detector, then why not use a
2 Its nose is another example of the superb design in living
things — the organisation of all the separate components into an
integrated system that works with remarkable precision. Just as the sensitive
nose of the humble dog can lead a tracker to his quarry, the amazing design in
the living world can put us on the trail toward our remarkable Designer.
- Morell, V., The secret of a dog’s sniffer, ScienceNow Daily
News, sciencenow.sciencemag.org, 9 December 2009. return to text
- As indeed many do. See: Sniffer dogs, Creation 26(1):8, 2003; creation.com/focus-261#sniffer;
Sniffer dogs still best, Creation 26(4):9, 2004; creation.com/focus-264#sniffer. return to text
Courtesy of Creation Ministries International. <CREATION.com>