Animals are dependent on their nose in many aspects of life. Tasks like food search, navigation or kin recognition often include the ability to evaluate odours and migrate towards or away from them. Humans and several other animals can even sniff their way to picking a compatible partner. By choosing a mate that smells right, individuals can produce healthy babies with efficient immune systems. In contrast to many animals birds have generally been thought to have a poor sense of smell, but there are exceptions. The Blue petrel is an Antarctic sea bird with a remarkable sense of smell that it uses to recognize its partners, to navigate and to find food.
A few weeks ago, CAnMove associate Maria Strand (together with Helena Westerdahl, Björn Canbäck and researchers at CNRS, Montpellier in France) published an article that shows that the nose of the Blue petrel is even capable of smelling which mates will produce kids with the best immune systems. To the article in Proceedings of the Royal Society B!