Nose Knows: Wild Ways Animals Smell the World

Nose Knows: Wild Ways Animals Smell the World
Emmanuelle Figueras and Claire de Gastold
What on Earth Books

Did you know that our noses can detect some 400,000 different smells, each one carrying its own message?

However, this large format book investigates the sense of smell – its detection and use – not only in humans but also in a variety of animals whose snouts, trunks, rostra, muzzles and beaks are given prominence in this thematically organised volume.

There are flaps that can be lifted to reveal inside views of such things as a snail’s two ‘noses’ that amazingly allow a snail to detect the smell of a lettuce from a distance of 100 metres.

I was fascinated to read that honeybees post guard bees at the entrance to a hive to check the scent of each arrival with their antennae, allowing only those carrying the scent of the colony to enter.

We read of the different uses of the olfactory sense – to identify mates and offspting, to locate prey or other food, to detect danger as well as to assist in finding the way when travelling long distances.

Moving from the general to the specific, the author presents difficult concepts in a manner that older primary school readers will find accessible (‘Polar bears have wide nasal cavities that allow them to inhale large amounts of air and detect odorant molecules over long distance’ for instance) and this is also facilitated by the layout of the pages where text never dominates.

There are also humorous touches both verbal – male giraffes smell and taste the urine of females to check out their hormone levels and thus ascertain the female’s readiness to mate – and in Claire de Gastold’s realistic illustrations (the blissful somnolent stretch of the cat on the armchair and the horses pulling funny faces (on account of their Jacobson’s organs.

An Informative book but  fun too, and there’s a final index, plus suggestions for further reading.

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