Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Scent Sense of a Bird

Contrary to what has long been thought, birds may have a sense of smell, Science reports.

It notes that a study conducted about 200 years ago suggested that birds relied on visual cues rather than smell. But as Science reports studies over time have chipped away at the notion that bird lack a sense of smell, including two recently published ones.

In Integrative and Comparative Biology last month, for instance, researchers from East Carolina University reported that five avian genomes they examined — from hummingbird, emu, chicken, zebra finch, and a tropical bird called a manakin — harbor a range of olfactory receptor genes. Michigan State University's Danielle Whittaker, who was not part of the study, tells Science the emu finding is exciting as it sits close to the base of the avian family tree.

Meanwhile, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany reported in Scientific Reports that wild European white storks appear to be attracted to the smell of freshly mown grass. Science adds that other studies have likewise suggested that birds might be attracted to the scents given off by injured plants and that smells might have a role in avian social life.

The Scan

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.

Researchers Retrace Key Mutations in Reassorted H1N1 Swine Flu Virus With Avian-Like Features

Mutations in the acidic polymerase-coding gene boost the pathogenicity and transmissibility of Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine influenza viruses, a PNAS paper finds.

Genome Sequences Reveal Evolutionary History of South America's Canids

An analysis in PNAS of South American canid species' genomes offers a look at their evolutionary history, as well as their relationships and adaptations.

Lung Cancer Response to Checkpoint Inhibitors Reflected in Circulating Tumor DNA

In non-small cell lung cancer patients, researchers find in JCO Precision Oncology that survival benefits after immune checkpoint blockade coincide with a dip in ctDNA levels.