Study Gives Scientists A Sense Of How Animals Bond

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Scientists have pinpointed how a key hormone helps animals to recognise others by their smell.Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have shown that the hormone vasopressin helps the brain differentiate between familiar and new scents.The study, published in the journal Nature, suggests that when the hormone fails to function, animals are unable to recognise other individuals from their scent.

The ability to recognise others by smell is crucial in helping animals to establish strong bonds with other animals.The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), may offer clues about the way people make emotional connections with others through smell and deepen our understanding of the role scent plays in memory.Many scientists think a failure in this recognition system in humans may prevent them from forming deep emotional bonds with others.
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Pesticide Turns Male Frogs Into Females

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A commonly used pesticide known as atrazine can turn male frogs into females that are successfully able to reproduce, a new study finds.While previous work has shown atrazine can cause sexual abnormalities in frogs, such as hermaphroditism (having both male and female sex organs), this study is the first to find that atrazine’s effects are long-lasting and can influence reproduction in amphibians.

The results suggest that atrazine, which is a weed killer used primarily on corn crops, could have potentially harmful effects on populations of amphibians, animals that are already experiencing a global decline, said study author Tyrone B. Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley. Atrazine is banned in Europe.And since atrazine interferes with the production of the sex hormone estrogen, present in people and frogs, the findings could have implications for humans as well. “If you have problems in amphibians, you can anticipate problems in other animals,” Hayes said.
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