So animals use pheromones and communicate in all sorts of complex ways. It's just 55 years or so since the first pheromone was identified chemically and that, as you may know, was the pheromone of the silk moth. It was identified by a large team led by the German Nobel Laureate Button. So that same year they had to create a new word for this new phenomenon and the word that was invented in 1959 was pheromones. And all those years later, we've only needed to modify the definition just slightly.
The first is that we are now conscious that pheromones are evolved signals. We separate them from the idea of cues which are just information like the odors used by mosquitoes to find their prey. But the other thing that wasn't known initially was that unlike the silk moth, most most of these signals come as a complex of molecules. They come as a multi-component pheromone. And so we've added this defined ratio in the case of multiple component pheromones. Learn more at http://chrshrt112.typepad.com
For a long time there was doubt that mammals had pheromones. But I think it's now clear that mammals do use a mixture of small and large molecules. For example, the rabbit mammary pheromone was discovered in 2003. The pig pheromones has been identified for many years and this is released in the male saliva and both attract and changes the behavior of the female.
There are lots of small molecules, each of which has different activity. But what's become clear in recent years, and it's the subject of this article are numerous peptide pheromones. But one of the difficulties in studying animal pheromones is there are complex molecules. For example, there are more than 700 molecules at least produced in the armpit, and many of those are produced by bacteria.
This is a very complex system and the early scientists who studied mammals thought that it would be impossible to find pheromones against this complex molecular background. But in fact they did find them. Within that complex clinical profile, you can identify pheromones which are the same, for example, in all dominant males.
The very complex chemical profile can also be used by animals to distinguish between them. For example, you can remember your partner or a member of other animals in the same group. What animals are doing is picking out molecules in that complex profile and remembering them as characteristic of that particular animal. Learn more about pheromone signal at http://astrobiosociety.org/
So in summary, pheromones are molecules that are the same across the species. Signature mixtures all have to do with learning and these are the molecules that we remember so that we recognize other individuals or other group member.
My name is Mark and I have been experimenting with pheromones since 2008.