Can you smell danger?

School of Goldband Fusilier, Pterocaesio chrys...

There are many scents out in the world that can grab our attention with just one whiff. The scent of coffee in the morning will get me out of bed within an instant. While I’m walking to school and smell the bakery on the way, it makes my mouth watery and my stomach angry, so what do I do? Of course I go in the bakery and grab something to satisfy my hunger. But what if we could smell danger? What if we were able to smell danger and avoid it before it can happen to us?

A study done by neuroscientist at the Biomedical Sciences Institutes, shows that fish can actually detect when other fishes are injured. They found when a fish’s skin is injured, other fish’s behavior would change and they would be more alarmed and alert. How cool would it be if we are actually able to smell someone else getting injured and actually able to be more alert (not that I’m saying it’s cool for someone to be injured).  Even ants can release a compound that signal danger to their fellow buddies, letting them know that there is danger ahead.

But just imagine a day when you’re out with your friends or family. Everything is going well and everyone is having a fun time, but what if something happened to a friend or family member and it was out of sight. Usually when I’m with my family or friends, I tend not to focus on what’s happening around me. If we were able to smell fear or danger, we could be more alert of our surroundings and be ready for anything that could be coming our way. But it doesn’t work like that, it’s not like we can smell fear a mile away or danger coming our way.

So, what do you think fear or danger smells like?


Written by: Tin Dao


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