The term “pheromone” was defined by the German biochemist Peter Karlson and Swiss entomologist Martin Lüscher in 1959. The word has two Greek roots: “pherein” (transport) and “hormone” (excite). Thus, the very first pheromones were defined as substances secreted by individuals that received by other individuals of the same species, cause a specific reaction, behavior or biological change. This is quite interesting.
The first pheromones were discovered in 1959 by Adolf Butenandt (who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1930), after 20 years of work. From 500 000 females of silkworm (Bombyx mori), he received 6.4 mg of purified attractive sex pheromone: the bombykol (which is actually an alcohol). Adolf Butenandt was not the only one to question the role of these odors. For over 50 years, biologists have been interested in the role of odor emissions in animals and discovered that most living organisms produce substances they release into the environment. Wilson’s article in 1963 entitled “Pheromone “was a trigger for many biologists. Many scientists noticed that the topics they were studying could be reread in light of these new concepts. In 1960, Jeanine Barbier and Michel Pain isolated and identified the queen substance of bees, which inhibits the development of the ovaries of the workers. This was the first pheromone amending known to date.
Since then, progress in the field has been enormous. Numerous pheromones are now known in insects even though the early work of isolation and purification was slow at times. Few pheromones identified in aquatic organisms, however, were reported in brown algae in mold lakes and rivers. Some pheromones were discovered in fungi, one of them producing a sex pheromone: the female gamete secretes a substance that attracts the male gametes. This was the first isolated pheromone from a plant.
In vertebrates, the term pheromone is more elusive and there are many examples. Pheromones have also been identified in rodents, carnivores and monkeys. In these mammals, pheromones are generally secreted by glands near the sexual organs or the head.
Different types of pheromones
There are many kinds of pheromones and they can be divided into two major categories: incentive pheromones that affect the behavior of animals and modifying pheromones that act on the biology of animals. Breast enhancement pills have also been shown effective to increase attraction in a similar manner.
Pheromones of territory are hormones that animals (e.g. canids) use to mark their territory. Trace pheromones have been identified as bile acid derivatives. The animals use them to trace their tracks (e.g. ants). The alarm pheromones are volatile (or very soluble in water for fish) and they are released by an animal in case of injury or attack by a predator, and that triggers the leak or aggression in other individuals of the same species. Sex pheromones indicate the availability of females to be fertilized. Depending on the type of reproductive cycle of the insect, pheromones play different roles. However, the coupling always takes place at a well-defined life cycle of the insect, and even at a specific time of day sometimes. Sex pheromones are by definition created to ease communication with each other in order to ensure the sustainability of the species. Popular well-known pheromone cologne include Verolab’s Liquid Trust and Pherazone.
Pheromones and Their Role in Human and Non-Human Sexuality
Pheromones are commonly described as chemicals that act as social cues within a species, including alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, signal pheromones, territorial pheromones, and sex pheromones. They were discovered in animals approximately fifty years ago, and since then, they have generated a substantial amount of debate, discussion, and study. Various species of insects, including bees and butterflies, definitely use pheromones to communicate with one another. Among mice, the scent of a male can speak volumes about his health and the state of his immune system, which female mice can detect. Animals seem to prefer mates whose immune-system genes are different from their own, so their offspring will have the widest possible disease protection. Researchers have been studying potential cases of sex pheromones in humans, and whether it works the same way.
Humans certainly invest a significant amount of time, energy, and effort regulating how we smell. Deodorants, perfumes, colognes, and bathing and washing in scented soaps can all affect how we perceive another person’s odor. Smell clearly plays some role in sexual attraction and social behavior. Studying pheromones in humans can be complicated due to variations in hygiene. Other animals produce pheromones from all sorts of sources, from their fur to their bodily fluids. Humanity’s main organ for producing pheromones is the skin, and most research on pheromones has concentrated there.
The source of human pheromones would be the apocrine glands, which develop the most at puberty, when many other sexual and potential sexual characteristics develop. The outer ear, eyelids, armpits, nipples, and genitals have the most apocrine glands. Many of these areas also occur with substantial hair growth, and indeed, hair is an efficient odor delivery system for many other mammals. The armpits also spread odor effectively. However, many of the substances produced by the apocrine glands are largely undetectable by human senses: what we smell is the byproducts of what the glands secrete. Our bodies could be producing pheromones without our knowledge, at a level that is difficult to consciously perceive according to the news.
There are minimal studies addressing the question of whether humans have territorial, signal, alarm, and food trail pheromones or others of their kind. Sex pheromones and pheromones within families have been much more thoroughly researched. Nursing infants have been shown to turn towards the breasts of their mothers due to pheromones. There have been some studies indicating women’s body odor changes throughout their menstrual cycles, and that can affect how men perceive them. The men rated the women’s smell most highly between the time when menstruation started, and when ovulation started. The hormonal changes that result from changes in a menstrual cycle can clearly affect women across the board. There may well be mutual changes in attraction across the menstrual cycle.