It’s not new, and it’s as old as the dog’s ancestors, the wolves. But it is new to us, humans. And it is not the nostrils but the rhinarium that gives the dog this super-special power that only the black-fire beetles, the typical vampire bat, and some species of snakes have it. At least to our knowledge, because there might be a wild number of mammals that have it, and use it for hunting.
A new paper states that the area of smooth, furless, packed with nerves skin around the dog’s nostrils (this is what rhinarium is!) has a special connection with the left somatosensory cortex of the dog’s brain. That is the brain’s part that handles the information coming from the nose — to our knowledge, that is. And this particular skin has a unique feature: it can sense weak thermal radiation.
Dogs Smell Radiations
The research had two stages — one that tried to find if dogs can feel the heat from a distance, and they do. The second stage told the scientists that the brain is the one telling the dogs to choose the warmer objects, as they would do with live prey. The MRI said to them that. So, it might be that hunters, or at least the dogs, are “sniffing” for the heat. With the help of the left somatosensory cortex, the dog senses weak hot spots giving off infrared radiation.
It’s a fantastic discovery considering that we should’ve known by now this kind of thing about the animals we keep so close to us. Just as close as if they were family. And sometimes, closer. But, then again, how well do we know the people in our family? Maybe that’s why we didn’t bother. We usually prefer to presume instead of understanding. Now we know, and it looks like the discovery became valuable for different researches that might redefine the prey-predator relationships and predator hunting strategies.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.