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Word of the Week: Olfaction
December 06, 2019 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Coyote photo by Richard Bod

Word of the week is Olfaction [ohl-FAK-shuh n] (noun): A chemoreception that forms the sense of smell.

For a human, being in nature can be a highly sensory experience. In fact, at our programs, we encourage participants to engage with nature using all of their senses to take their enjoyment, appreciation, and learning to another level. However, for other animals, the use of their senses in nature is not just for enjoyment and learning, it can truly make the difference between life and death! Let’s look at the sense of smell for a moment. In animals, olfaction plays a role in detecting hazards, pheromones, and food. It can even integrate with other senses to form the sense of flavour! This is certainly the case for canines, like coyotes.

Olfaction is very important for coyotes, especially when it comes to hunting! These fascinating mammals will use their olfactory system, as well as sound and visual cues, to locate any of the wide variety of animals on which their prey upon (e.g. squirrels, birds, snakes, rabbits…)

Keep an eye out for coyotes and their incredible sense of smell on your next visit to High Park!

FUN FACT: Coyotes are thought to have 40-60 times more olfactory receptors in their noses than a human!

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