Fishes that Tipple in the Deep

  • William McCartney


Mammals living in water (e. g., dolphins, porpoises, seals, walruses, whales) have poorly developed olfactory organs and are said, although the evidence appears to be scanty, to have an extremely poor sense of smell. As for fish, Duméril was evidently quite sure that they are completely lacking in olfactory power. “There can be no true sense of smell”, he affirmed, “in an animal habitually immersed in a liquid.” Parker, on the other hand, was obviously equally sure that the olfactory organs of fish are true distance receptors and are not less truly organs of smell than are those of the higher vertebrates. There exists also, of course, a third possibility — perhaps this was all that Parker claimed — namely, that some species of fish have a sense of smell whilst others have not. The dogfish, we are told, seeks its food exclusively by scent whilst the carp’s search is wholly guided by sight. Thus, as in the case of birds, there has been a conflict of opinion. This, perhaps, has not been so sharp as was the ornithological conflict nor has any Audubon entered the lists.


Olfactory Organ Amyl Acetate Synthetic Musk Olfactory Sense Mammalian Skin 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • William McCartney
    • 1
  1. 1.Kingston-upon-ThamesGreat Britain

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