Smell Title Graphic

The Home Page
Sense of height
Sense of Smell
Sense of Touch
Sense of Taste
Sense of Hearing

The Glossary
Take The Quiz!!!
E-mail Us

Your Sense of Smell
Have you ever wondered what you smell when you "smell the roses" in the spring time? What makes a smell is something that is too small to see with your eyeball alone. It is even too small to be seen with a microscope! What you smell are tiny things called odor particles. Millions of them are floating around waiting to be sniffed by your nose!

 You smell these odors through your nose which is almost like a huge cave built to smell, moisten, and filter the air you breathe. As you breathe in, the air enters through your nostrils which contain tiny little hairs that filter all kinds of things trying to enter your nose, even bugs! These little hairs are called cilia and you can pretend that they sweep all the dirt out of the nasal cavity, which is the big place the air passes through on it's way to the lungs. After passing through the nasal cavity, the air passes through a thick layer of mucous to the olfactory bulb. There the smells are recognized because each smell molecule fits into a nerve cell like a lock and key. Then the cells send signals along your olfactory nerve to the brain. At the brain, they are interpreted as those sweet smelling flowers or that moldy cheese.

Picture of the Nose

Our sense of smell is connected really well to our memory. For instance, the smell of popcorn can remind you of being at the movies with a friend or the smell of tar can remind you of riding in a car to the beach.

Humans have seven primary odors that help them determine objects. Listed below are the seven odors.

Odor Example Pictures
Camphoric Mothballs Picture
Musky Perfume/Aftershave Picture
Roses Floral Picture
Pepperminty Mint Gum Picture
Etheral Dry Cleaning Fluid Picture
Pungent Vinegar Picture
Putrid Rotten Eggs Picture

Sense-Sational Facts
Dogs have 1 million smell cells per nostril and their smell cells are 100 times larger than humans!
Humans use insect warning chemicals, called pheromones, to keep away pesky insects!
People who cannot smell have a condition called Anosmia.
If your nose is at its best, you can tell the difference between 4000-10,000 smells!
As you get older, your sense of smell gets worse. Children are more likely to have better senses of smell than their parents or grandparents.

Sense-Sational Links
InnerBody - Has some good information about the sense of smell, plus great pictures (However, you have to have a java capable browser)
Your Gross and Yucky Body - Good sight with a lot of information about the sense of smell!
Minutes From Me - Great smell related activities and links!
Following Our Noses - Interesting article from Time Magazine about communicating through smell.
Aging And The Sense of Smell - Site that explains what happens to our ability to smell as we get older.

Think Quest Junior Logo