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wd40
2012-Nov-19, 07:34 AM
Each morning a human wakes from his sleep with a mouth tasting and feeling fetid, like a birdcage, due to the proliferation of bacteria that has occurred due to buccal drying caused by mouth breathing and whilst the saliva in the mouth was in stasis.

This is not surprising, because the embryonic human starts out in the womb as a simple worm-like tube with an opening at each end, one end of which goes on to develop to be the mouth and buccal cavity, and the other end to be the anus and rectal cavity. The oral and rectal cavities are connected, with similar musculatures, cell lining, embryologically similar etc.

Whilst animal odors don't deter animals from procreating, indeed they are an inducement, modern humans with their higher developed sensitivities, 'hyped' overwareness, decorum and sensibilities, being that humans are the only creatures to copulate front to front/face to face/mouth to mouth and are sensitive to their partner's poor personal hygiene/ body/dried sweat/ and cavity odor, in the aeons before toothpastes, toothbrushes, mouthwashes, perfumes, soaps and deodorants, where everyone must have smelt what for us today would be called "malodorous", and where sperm counts and sexual drives must have been considerably higher, presumably this was not a problem or did not rise above their attention threshold.

But in the last few thousand years, has not unremedied malodour thwarted/deterred many a match/marriage/mating/night-out/child conception?

Ara Pacis
2012-Nov-19, 08:05 AM
You know, it doesn't have to be face to face with humans. Or consensual.

On an unrelated note. How long before someone asks how humans could have procreated without mouthwash?

tnjrp
2012-Nov-19, 08:23 AM
This is pretty close, I would say.

---


Whilst animal odors don't deter animals from procreating, indeed they are an inducement, modern humans with their higher developed sensitivities, 'hyped' overwareness, decorum and sensibilities, being that humans are the only creatures to copulate front to front/face to face/mouth to mouth and are sensitive to their partner's poor personal hygiene/ body/dried sweat/ and cavity odor, in the aeons before toothpastes, toothbrushes, mouthwashes, perfumes, soaps and deodorants, where everyone must have smelt what for us today would be called "malodorous", and where sperm counts and sexual drives must have been considerably higher, presumably this was not a problem or did not rise above their attention thresholdGo no further. This new "mystery" of yours is just another non-starter, see the bolded bit.


But in the last few thousand years, has not unremedied malodour thwarted/deterred many a match/marriage/mating/night-out/child conception?Obviously not, to the extent of threatening the humanity with extinction, even if you subsrcibe to young Earth creationism. It's not a problem to Last Thurdayism or indeed its spliter sect Last Tuesdayism, of course.

You might want to propose something caused human breath to smell bad over the last few decaded instead. Not that it sounds very likely to me either but you might be able to make some kind of case there.

novaderrik
2012-Nov-19, 08:29 AM
this made me think of an old Richard Pryor routine where he was talking about his experiences on a trip to Africa..
long story short and without getting into his particular style of story telling, he found their body odor to be offensive and they found his deodorants and perfumes to be offensive when they were stuck in a car together.. it's on the Youtubes if you want to see the routine..

pzkpfw
2012-Nov-19, 08:39 AM
What didn't surprise me was seeing the author of this thread, after seeing the title. It just had to be...

I suggest watching the movie "quest for fire". It illustrates the point made by Ara Pacis. (Quite early on, you don't need to sit through the whole thing.)


this made me think of an old Richard Pryor routine where he was talking about his experiences on a trip to Africa..
long story short and without getting into his particular style of story telling, he found their body odor to be offensive and they found his deodorants and perfumes to be offensive when they were stuck in a car together.. it's on the Youtubes if you want to see the routine..

Yes, such an obvious point. Not all humans on Earth today use mouthwash, deodorants etc - yet they seem to procreate fine.

All people do what's necessary for their cultural environment. My Father in law used to brush his teeth * with the chewed end of a stick off a particular tree. He still managed to get married and have two kids...

(* admittedly, this was as a child, not as an adult.)

HenrikOlsen
2012-Nov-19, 11:02 AM
But in the last few thousand years, has not unremedied malodour thwarted/deterred many a match/marriage/mating/night-out/child conception?Sorry, but you're going to need a heck of a lot more than a ban on mouthwash and toothbrushes to make people stop having sex.

novaderrik
2012-Nov-19, 11:28 AM
Sorry, but you're going to need a heck of a lot more than a ban on mouthwash and toothbrushes to make people stop having sex.

alcohol and low self esteem would also have to be eradicated. as would the basic animal need to procreate.

wd40
2012-Nov-19, 11:47 AM
Even though a human has one of the lesser sensitive olfactory systems in mammals, modern man is repulsed, recoils and flees from bad human odors such as vomit, feces, bad perspiration, stale urine, excessive halitosis etc. because they are identified as being hazardous, disease, infection etc

When did this recoil instinct from smells evolve?

Or is it only a few hundred years old since the awareness of modern hygiene, viruses and bacteria, as a result of our modern upbringing from childhood that "poo"="bad"?

The smell from a latrine 200 years ago wouldn't even register as an issue. Today, the entire block would empty out.

tnjrp
2012-Nov-19, 12:46 PM
When did this recoil instinct from smells evolve?"Recoil instinct" from smells predates human evolution. What olfactory stimuli are to be recoiled from is dependent on the species and in the case of humans, culture. According to some studies, humans are better at detecting things that are unhealthy to eat than animals with generally more sensitive olfactory system. This may be because of the special features of human olfaction:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC406401/

The need to use mouthwash when kissing posdates a large chunk of human cultural evolution.

ShinAce
2012-Nov-19, 02:00 PM
You can read about it from the ancients themselves. This one is from Apuleius:
http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/apuleius/lana/ap1.htm
ch 6

He thought it was a good idea to brush your teeth and freshen your breath, yet others saw it as unmanly and basically called him a witch for promoting it.

Solfe
2012-Nov-19, 02:04 PM
The Chinese has mouthwash in 2700 BC, to treat gingivitis . The Roman's had it and Hippocrates recommended a mixture of salt, alum, and vinegar.

<tongue>Mouthwash might be older than a 360 degree circle.</cheek>

Swift
2012-Nov-19, 02:10 PM
Originally Posted by wd40
When did this recoil instinct from smells evolve?
"Recoil instinct" from smells predates human evolution.
If you think of the senses of smell and taste as our ability to detect chemicals, they are probably the oldest senses. Even single celled organisms have the ability to sense chemicals in their environment, both useful and harmful. Most use this chemical sense to either find food or avoid toxics.

Science News, volume 154 (http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/pdfs/data/1998/154-13/15413-04.pdf)

If William Dreyer’s idea that olfactory receptor proteins guide embryonic development (“Dialing up an Embryo, ” SN: 8/15/98, p. 106) is correct, it brings up the question of which function came first. A multicelled organism would have to have some sort of system to guide development. Maybe later, this ability to recognize molecules found use in sensing external molecules. Or did a receptor system found in even single-celled organisms (which would need to sense the outside world) find use as a guidance system when multicelled organisms evolved? I wonder if similar receptor proteins are found in modern single-celled organisms.

Gillianren
2012-Nov-19, 07:26 PM
From the Online Etymology Dictionary:


halitosis (n.)
"bad breath," 1874, coined from L. halitus "breath," related to halare "to breathe" + Greek-based noun suffix -osis.

cjl
2012-Nov-19, 11:06 PM
... such as vomit, feces, bad perspiration, stale urine, excessive halitosis etc...


Unless you have halitosis and body odor beyond anything I have ever personally witnessed, two of these things are kind of out of proportion to the other three.

TooMany
2012-Nov-19, 11:40 PM
Dogs have extraordinary senses of smell but don't mind eating poop. Go figure.

Jens
2012-Nov-20, 12:17 AM
Even though a human has one of the lesser sensitive olfactory systems in mammals, modern man is repulsed, recoils and flees from ... feces,

Sorry to be indelicate, but when you go to the bathroom, do you recoil and flee? I doubt it, because I think humans have an evolved sense of smell that makes us sort of repulsed but not in the extreme way you say. It's probably a way to get ourselves to be hygienic.



excessive halitosis etc.


I think you may have hit the answer there with your "excessive." I would suppose that what people find repulsive is not halitosis per se, but excessive halitosis. So if everyone around you has a smell factor of say 20, and one guy has 30, then you will find that repulsive. But if everybody has a score of 50, and this one guy has a 30, you will find him particularly clean. So I think it's safe to say that a long time ago, everybody had more body odor than we do today, but people were used to it, and it would only turn them off if the person had a particularly strong body odor compared to others.

Anecdotal data perhaps, but I've been to mountain villages in "third world" countries where people didn't bathe. And they had stronger body odor than I'm used to. And yet, they had many more children (as far as I can tell) than the people around me in a developed country. So I doubt that body odor serves as a deterrent to procreation.

Solfe
2012-Nov-20, 01:32 AM
Anecdotal data perhaps, but I've been to mountain villages in "third world" countries where people didn't bathe. And they had stronger body odor than I'm used to. And yet, they had many more children (as far as I can tell) than the people around me in a developed country. So I doubt that body odor serves as a deterrent to procreation.

:clap:

redshifter
2012-Nov-20, 01:50 AM
Dogs have extraordinary senses of smell but don't mind eating poop. Go figure.

I'm still trying to figure that one out...my dog can smell meat on the grill from approximately 12 miles away, but yet has to bury her snout in some other dog's business...

Ara Pacis
2012-Nov-20, 05:39 AM
I think people bathed a long time ago with water and maybe covered themselves in flower scent and learned to chew certain plants that help reduce odor, such as mint and parsley. I don't know if or when, but it doesn't sound like it needed to be a high tech solution. Of course, I wonder how well they could smell from all the campfire smoke or from respiratory infections or general weakness due to parasite load.

Inclusa
2012-Nov-20, 06:26 AM
I think you may have hit the answer there with your "excessive." I would suppose that what people find repulsive is not halitosis per se, but excessive halitosis. So if everyone around you has a smell factor of say 20, and one guy has 30, then you will find that repulsive. But if everybody has a score of 50, and this one guy has a 30, you will find him particularly clean. So I think it's safe to say that a long time ago, everybody had more body odor than we do today, but people were used to it, and it would only turn them off if the person had a particularly strong body odor compared to others.

Anecdotal data perhaps, but I've been to mountain villages in "third world" countries where people didn't bathe. And they had stronger body odor than I'm used to. And yet, they had many more children (as far as I can tell) than the people around me in a developed country. So I doubt that body odor serves as a deterrent to procreation.

Have anyone considered the use of perfume or tobacco as a source of "offensive odor"?

Jens
2012-Nov-20, 06:41 AM
Have anyone considered the use of perfume or tobacco as a source of "offensive odor"?

Well, tobacco, yes. But for perfume it seems counterintuitive. After all, manufacturers I'm sure try to make scents that are pleasant, and presumably people wouldn't buy them if they weren't. Of course, their are individual things: there are even people who don't like the smell of melons. :) But in general, I find most perfumes to be a nice smell.

tnjrp
2012-Nov-20, 06:56 AM
Perfumes are certainly meant to please people but you can't please all the people all the time -- even without taking into account that strong smells like that of a liberally applied perfume can inflict migraine attacks on some.

On the subject of dogs, given that many if not most mammalian carnivores eat carrion and that dogs may well have evolved from a brach of canines that was opportunistically feeding on human refuse, it's hardly surprising that their sense of smell registers odours we find repulsive as neutral or even preferable.

Jens
2012-Nov-20, 07:35 AM
On the subject of dogs, given that many if not most mammalian carnivores eat carrion and that dogs may well have evolved from a brach of canines that was opportunistically feeding on human refuse, it's hardly surprising that their sense of smell registers odours we find repulsive as neutral or even preferable.

I don't know that much about dogs, but do they smell that stuff because they like it? I thought they do it out of territorial issues, i.e. trying to determine what other dogs (or perhaps other animals) are in the area. You often see animals like zebra smelling around, and I don't think it's because they particularly enjoy the smell of lions. I think they have a different motivation for it. When dogs smell poop, aren't they really investigating?

tnjrp
2012-Nov-20, 07:47 AM
I don't know that much about dogs, but do they smell that stuff because they like it?As always, it's quite difficult to tell what animals do because they are "compelled by instinct" and what they may prefer to do if given a choice. I don't think that's a discussion that needs to be done here tho. Regardless of that, a lot of smells that many humans would find repulsive, for example rotting meat, may in fact be actually compelling to canines because they signal an easy meal or a potential mate or whathavewe.

tusenfem
2012-Nov-20, 08:48 AM
Moving to OTB

HenrikOlsen
2012-Nov-20, 02:39 PM
Well, tobacco, yes. But for perfume it seems counterintuitive. After all, manufacturers I'm sure try to make scents that are pleasant, and presumably people wouldn't buy them if they weren't. Of course, their are individual things: there are even people who don't like the smell of melons. :) But in general, I find most perfumes to be a nice smell.
Don't try to look up where the scents of perfume originated before getting synthesized. :D

Extracts of anal glands of civets and deer, wax from the head of whales and several of the chemicals making up the smell of feces are all used.

Gillianren
2012-Nov-20, 06:57 PM
There are some people who are sensitive to perfumes in general. There are some people who are sensitive to particular scents. (If I never smell patchouli or sandalwood again in my life, it will be too soon, especially on someone who hasn't bathed!) However, perfumes have been popular to improve human scent for thousands of years.

Perikles
2012-Nov-20, 07:05 PM
If I never smell patchouli or sandalwood again in my life, it will be too soon, .It's odd how differently we react. The most intense sensual experience I've ever had is during a sauna session when just before the end, I poured a drop or two of sandalwood essential oil onto the stove stones. That was so magic I thought it must be illegal.

Noclevername
2012-Nov-20, 07:12 PM
Ancient dig sites have revealed that Stone Age people used chewed sticks as toothbrushes. Certain types of wood were favored for their cleaning properties, and some still see use today in various societies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miswak. Wood ash was probably the earliest "toothpaste".

closetgeek
2012-Nov-20, 09:28 PM
Have anyone considered the use of perfume or tobacco as a source of "offensive odor"?

I despise most perfumes and colognes. Occassionally, I will catch a subtle hint of someone wearing a pleasant scent but for the most part, it burns my sinuses. If I had a choice between sitting next to someone with body odor or perfume, I would choose the body odor.

Gillianren
2012-Nov-20, 11:05 PM
It's odd how differently we react. The most intense sensual experience I've ever had is during a sauna session when just before the end, I poured a drop or two of sandalwood essential oil onto the stove stones. That was so magic I thought it must be illegal.

Right, whereas I would immediately start gagging.

Durakken
2012-Nov-20, 11:51 PM
By "higher developed sensitivities" I hope you mean people who are irritable over little things and not "having better senses." Humans have mid-range level senses...

Van Rijn
2012-Nov-21, 01:17 AM
But in general, I find most perfumes to be a nice smell.

For me, it generally depends on how much somebody is using. Small amounts are okay and generally pleasant, but if I'm around someone using too much in an enclosed space, it is very annoying, and sometimes gives me a headache.

Noclevername
2012-Nov-21, 02:08 AM
By "higher developed sensitivities" I hope you mean people who are irritable over little things and not "having better senses." Humans have mid-range level senses...

It isn't necessarily an emotional reaction, it can be a physical one. And sensitivity doesn't imply "better". When I get a migraine, I get so sensitive to sounds and bright lights that they are physically painful, but my senses of hearing and sight are no better than they normally are.

Swift
2012-Nov-21, 02:12 AM
For me, it generally depends on how much somebody is using. Small amounts are okay and generally pleasant, but if I'm around someone using too much in an enclosed space, it is very annoying, and sometimes gives me a headache.
Yes.

I had to evacuate a small perfume shop my wife and I stopped in once as the fumes were making me dizzy.

Jim
2012-Nov-21, 03:41 AM
... If I had a choice between sitting next to someone with body odor or perfume, I would choose the body odor.

Some years ago... almost 40... I worked briefly with a man who had extremely offensive body odor. All of his co-workers noticed. It's not that he was dirty or didn't bathe, he just stunk.

All these years... almost 40... later, I still remember him.

I'd choose the perfume, any perfume.

wd40
2012-Nov-21, 08:09 AM
The human olfactory nerve tires quickly.Presumably in the era when even the Queen of England had only one hot bath per year and where everyone smelt much more than today, the nerves tired quickly and no one even noticed.

Today the aversion to any body odor is so great that if a stinking worker could not solve his problem, the upset it would cause his fellow workers would be so great that it would be grounds for dismissal on grounds of "olfactory assault", especially in an open-plan office!

Man banned from library because of his smell
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1233273/Man-banned-local-library-complaints-body-odour.html

NEOWatcher
2012-Nov-21, 01:21 PM
The human olfactory nerve tires quickly.Presumably in the era when even the Queen of England had only one hot bath per year and where everyone smelt much more than today, the nerves tired quickly and no one even noticed.
You went from evolved sense of smell to tired nerves. Could you expand on that? What do you mean by tired nerves?

They grew up with the smell, so I don't see anything changing. It's just something they lived with.

And; you don't need a hot bath for hygene. Are you referring to the Dirty middle ages myth (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_often_did_Queen_Elizabeth_I_bathe)?

Noclevername
2012-Nov-21, 01:30 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfactory_fatigue

It's an innate adaptive process rather than "tired nerves".

slang
2012-Nov-22, 12:43 AM
Man banned from library because of his smell
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1233273/Man-banned-local-library-complaints-body-odour.html

Well, he does have a girlfriend, according to the article. No evidence of procreation tho', so you might be on to something. On the other hand, I can't take an article which contains the line "He uses the computers at Wigston Library in Leicester every day to use the computers [...]" too seriously.