Your Inner Fish Part 3

Similar to the last section of the book, there is a lot of information to take in and a lot of review from embryology and biology. Thankfully those two classes helped me get a better understanding and grasp on the knowledge discussed in the book. I like how learning from Shubin is different than learning from other books. Shubin lets the reader take a break from all the information and will acknowledge you about his stories/adventures, making a little more interesting to learn out of. This portion of the book showed me how intricate and complex our bodies processes things like vision and smell. It gave me a more in-depth view of how eyes of humans (as well as other creatures) work on a molecular level. Before I was not familiar with the different types of molecules and genes that take function in our eyeballs. The part that interested me the most was how odor genes and receptors function throughout the human and fish body; also how they help us link to other fish, amphibians, and mammals. It made me wonder how us humans and other animals have different types of odor genes spawn and develop. Also, if it would be possible to insert them into humans and other organisms so that they can indicate and manipulate other odors or are some odors only functional with certain types of receptors?

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3 thoughts on “Your Inner Fish Part 3

  1. While some odors are probably only compatible with particular receptors, if you could implant odor genes from a dog say to a human to increase acuity of smell, assuming the transplantation was successful, the human would be privy to all odors available to a dog as the odor genes regulate the development of nasal receptors in the first place.This transplantation probably would have to be embryonic though,and I’m not sure how much odor interpretation has to do with the brains interpretation of a signal or the intensity and style of the sent signal dependent on the character of the particular receptor.

  2. Even if we were able to carry out this implantation with, let’s say, a dog’s sense of smell like you mentioned, there would be concerns surrounding the translation and nervous response to the smells. A dog’s olfactory senses are much more acute and extensive than those of a human; would the human brain have the capacity to handle such a spectrum of odors? Would the influx of smells overload the nasal receptors in a human brain that’s used to a shorter range? Or, since you brought up embryonic transplantation, would the nervous system develop to take this range into account. I believe that this process and its implications are more intricate than meets the eye.

  3. I agree with the comment above. If such an intricate and complex gene is implanted into an organism, like us, that posses a gene capable of smelling half of what the other organism smells, how will the brain respond? Another question would be: Will we be able to cope with such an immense amount of influx of smell? A few months ago I watched a documentary on a dog that was trained to smell and look out for a certain viral bacteria that causes diarehha in hospital patients by simply going into a room and smelling. I thought this was very impressive. A dog can diagnose a patient by just smelling him. Imagine if we coud do this by simply tranplanting this gene into humas!

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