A new study revealed that the odor of a male goat stimulates the reproductive hormones of female goats. This study describes primary differences between humans' and animals' reaction to the environment.
Researchers from the University of Tokyo concluded that a certain chemical in the hair of male goats, called "pheromone," arouses the gonadotropin-releasing hormones in the female goats, which in turn stimulates their reproductive systems.
They found that the pheromone, which is called 4-ethylonactal, is converted to a related compound called 4-ethyloctanoic when combined with oxygen. The compound is believed to be the main ingredient of the male goat's odor that attracts female goats.
Yukari Takeuchi, lead author of the study, described the mechanism in a press release as "a clever reproductive strategy of the male goat to alter behavior and activity of the reproduction center in the female for mating by a single molecule."
4-ethylonactal is "a novel chemical that had never been demonstrated in nature before. This was our first surprise," added Takeuchi.
John J. McGlone, a professor at Texas Tech University, who was not involved in the study, told LiveScience, "I think it is pretty convincing that they have identified the compound.
He added that the research may also say something about other kinds of animals. There is a high possibility that when goats have pheromones, dogs, tigers and other species has it, too.
Furthermore, the new goat pheromone could have an effect on humans. However, it may not have a similar effect on us as the olfactory systems of different species can react differently in one pheromone.
"Where we see the world primarily through sight and sound, and then touch and a little bit of smell, they see their world primarily through their sense of smell. They are sensing things in the environment that we can't sense," McGlone added.
Further details of this finding can be read on the Feb. 27 issue of Current Biology.