ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside February/March 2007

Sex and the Secret Nerve

Could a little-known cranial nerve be the route by which human pheromones turn us on?

We stood around the body planning our autopsy strategy. A scalpel, we realized, was not going to be the appropriate implement for this corpse, so we made our decision. It took all three of us to muscle the slippery black bulk of the pilot whale into the screaming blur of the band-saw blade.

The whale had died of natural causes, after a distinguished military tenure conducting deep-sea operations for the U.S. Navy, which sends marine mammals to places where humans cannot safely go. In death, it was going to perform one more service--provide us with information about its magnificent brain. The navy had invited Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers to come to its base in San Diego in the mid-1980s, and I had joined them. Dressed like fishmongers in black rubber smocks and boots, anatomist Leo S. Demski, visiting from the University of Kentucky, veterinarian Sam H. Ridgway of the Naval Oceans Systems Center and I sought to unravel a scientific mystery. It was imperative that we learn whether the whale had a certain cranial nerve--for reasons that will soon become apparent.

X

"Sex and the Secret Nerve" is available in the following issues, please make a selection below

February/March 2007
February/March 2007 - $7.95
Your Sexual Brain
Your Sexual Brain - $9.99

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Limited Time Only!

Get 50% off Digital Gifts

Hurry sale ends 12/31 >

X

Email this Article

X