Wow wow! Not just drugs! Dogs can detect body heat from mammals, study finds

Dogs They are man’s best friend and although they have been with us for thousands of years each time we find a peculiarity of them as a study that found that the noses of dogs can detect weak thermal radiation: the body heat of mammalian prey.

“It is a fascinating discovery. This provides yet another window into the sensory worlds of cold noses highly evolved of dogs.” shared for Science Marc Bekoff, ethologist, canine olfaction expert, and professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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And it is that this type of characteristics, to feel the weak and radiated heatis known from only a handful of animals: black fire beetles, certain snakes, and one species of mammal, the common vampire bat, all of which use it to hunt prey.

Most mammals have smooth, bare skin on the tip of their noses around the nostrils, an area called the rhinary. But dog urinals are wetcooler than room temperature, and richly endowed with nerves, all of which suggests an ability to detect not only smell, but heat as well.

How do researchers know that dogs can detect heat?

To test the idea, researchers from Lund University and Eötvös Loránd University trained three domestic dogs to choose between a warm object (31 °C) and one at room temperature, each placed 1.6 meters apart. The dogs could not see or smell the difference between these objects. (Scientists could only tell the difference by touching the surfaces.)

After training, dogs were tested for their ability in double-blind experiments; all three successfully detected objects emitting weak thermal radiation, revealed the scientists in Scientific Reports .

Next, the researchers scanned the brains of 13 domestic dogs of various breeds in an fMRI scanner while presenting the dogs with objects that emit neutral or weak thermal radiation: The left somatosensory cortex in the dogs’ brains, which emits information from the nose, responded more to the warm than to the neutral thermal stimulus.

The scientists identified a group of 14 voxels (3D pixels) in this region of the dogs’ left hemispheres, but found none of these clusters in the right, and none in any part of the dogs’ brains in response to the neutral stimulus.

Together, the two experiments show that dogs, like vampire bats, can detect weak hot spots and that this infrared radiation activates a specific region of their brains, the scientists say. They suspect that the dogs inherited the ability of their ancestor, the gray wolfwhich can use it to sniff out warm bodies during a hunt.

“The study is consistent with other research describing the combination of the dog’s nose and brain as a sophisticated platform for processing a wide range of signals,” says Gary Settles, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Pennsylvania State University, University of Pennsylvania. Park, who has studied dogs’ olfactory abilities. He doubts, however, “that canine rhinarium can distinguish patterns of hot and cold objects at a distance,” suggesting that dogs’ thermal-sensing abilities may not be useful for long-distance hunting.

If nothing else, the work suggests the extraordinary abilities of the sled dog Buck, who tracked his prey “not by sight, sound, or smell, but by some other, more subtle sense” in Jack London’s Call of the Wild , are not completely fictional afterwards. everyone.


Wow wow! Not just drugs! Dogs can detect body heat from mammals, study finds