Pheromones

Male scent stimulates female goats’ fertility

Current Biology, Murata et al.

Current Biology, Murata et al.

Single pheromone found to induce ovulation.

The distinctive aroma of goats does more than just make barnyards extra fragrant. Male goats can use their heady scent to make female goats ovulate simply by being near them.

Researchers had ascribed this ‘male effect’ to chemicals known as primer pheromones — a chemical signal that can cause long-lasting physiological responses in the recipient. Examples of primer pheromones are rare in mammals; the male effect in goats and sheep, and a similar effect in mice and rats, where the presence of males can speed up puberty in females, are the only known cases. But exactly what substances are at work and how has remained a mystery. Read more in Nature.