Success of the smelliest: how pheromone signals evolve (and do humans have them?)

Event date: Friday, June 09, 2017, at 3:00 PM
Location: RW 432

Available, by request by videocast to UTM and UTSC


Speaker: Tristram Wyatt, Oxford University


Abstract :  Pheromones are chemical signals between members of

the same species. Since the discovery of the silk moth sex pheromone in

1959, pheromones have been identified in animals all across the animal

kingdom. They work just as well underwater: fish and lobsters also use

pheromones. Pheromones offer remarkable opportunities to study the

evolution of signals and changes in signal and receiver during speciation,

from enzyme pathways to receptors and neurons, at every level from genes to

populations. But do humans have pheromones? A corporation claimed they had

found them but never provided evidence. I will describe this ?bad science?

and how we might answer the question properly.

The talk will be designed for non-specialists and specialists alike.

Bio: Tristram Wyatt is a member of the Animal Behaviour Research Group of

the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford and an emeritus fellow of

Kellogg College, Oxford. Before coming to Oxford?s Department for

Continuing Education as a lecturer (Associate Professor) in 1989, he was a

lecturer at the University of Leeds and held research fellowships at the

University of California, Berkeley and the University of Wales, Cardiff.

He is interested in how animals of all kinds use pheromones to communicate

by smell. The second edition of his single-author book *Pheromones and

Animal Behavior *(Cambridge University Press) won the Royal Society of

Biology?s prize for the Best Postgraduate Textbook in 2014.  His TED talk

on human pheromones has been viewed over a million times. His new book

is Animal behaviour: A Very Short Introduction, published by Oxford University Press

in February 2017.

Host: Joel Levine