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Tom Mazanec
2015-Mar-24, 11:59 AM
What do they do? Do they taste? Do they smell? Do they "gvark" (to coin a word for a sixth sense)?

primummobile
2015-Mar-24, 12:32 PM
I thought they were primarily used to detect pheromones. I'm not sure if you would call that "smelling" or not.

Darrell
2015-Mar-24, 04:27 PM
It is an olfactory sense organ, so smell. The organ has sensory neurons that are stimulated by certain chemicals. Taste works in the same general way.

JohnD
2015-Mar-24, 07:00 PM
It works like the nose on mammals, except snakes 'taste' the air with their tongue and transfer scent molecules to the organ on the tongue.
NOT a sixth sense!

But mammals other than humans also have a "vomeronasal organ" (aka Jacobson's) in the hard palate that communicates with the oral cavity. The organ's nerve supply is from the Olfactory nerve, so what ever it senses, it's 'smelling'.

For a maost extensive descfiption see: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/201/21/2913.full.pdf

John