Olfactory sensitivity of spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) for "green odors"

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för fysik, kemi och biologi


Primates have traditionally been viewed as having a poorly developed sense of smell. However, in recent years, studies have shown that at least some primate species use olfaction in a number of behaviors, and that they have a high olfactory sensitivity for various chemical classes of odorants. Using a two-choice instrumental conditioning paradigm, the present study assessed olfactor ydetection thresholds of three spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) for eight aliphatic alcohols and aldehydes, known as "green odors". With all odorants, the animals detected concentrations below 1 parts per million, with single individuals performing even better. The type of functional group present systematically affected olfactory detection thresholds, whereas the presence, position and configuration of a double bond did not. Compared to previously tested classes of odorants, thespider monkeys were not particularly sensitive to "green odors". Furthermore, they are lesssensitive for "green odors" compared to humans and mice. The present results suggest that neuroanatomical and genetic comparisons across species are poor predictors of olfactory sensitivity.

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