Study Shows Smell-Sex Link
But whether pheromones really exist and work in this way has long been a matter of scientific contention. No longer, according to research released recently by Cornell University. Scientists say they've confirmed that animals use body odor to choose mates and identify offspring. In humans, pheromone compounds are produced under the arms; hence the term "armpit effect."
The researchers monitored newborn hamsters before their odor-sensing capabilities developed and placed them in unrelated litters to be raised. All they ever smelled were the unrelated foster mother and her young.
When the hamsters matured and were ready to mate, they were clearly drawn to the scents of unrelated strangers.
The armpit effect may explain how blindfolded mothers can tell the smell of their newborn babies, say scientists. The phenomenon may be how species avoid breeding with close relatives, researchers believe.