As far as humans are concerned, our noses are definitely not our most reliable trait. The smell of freshly baked cookies or a sweet summer rose may be a great experience, and it’s true that a foul odor will often keep us out of hazardous situations, but we rely on senses like sight or touch for the real survival business. That’s partly because our sense of smell really isn’t all that great. Dogs, for example, can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans. Slurpuff, on the other hand, can reportedly smell 100,000,000 times better than a human, or 1,000 times better than a dog. As we examine this sweet fairy-type today, we’ll try to figure out just what makes Slurpuff’s sniffer so superior, and teach you way more about noses than you’d ever want to know.
Fundamentally, smells are nothing but molecules floating in the air from whatever is making the scent. Let’s call these molecules odorants, since they are the physical thing that makes the smell. Some substances give off more odorants than others, which makes those things more smelly than others. For example, a volatile soup is constantly expelling and evaporating molecules into the air, especially if it’s warm. On the other hand, a metal pot does not give off many odorants, which is why it does not smell.
When the odorant molecule manages to float through the air and into your nose, the smelling can happen. At the back of your nose, you have a patch of neurons about the size of a postage stamp. These neurons are covered in tiny hair-like strands of cilia, and these are what come in direct contact with the odorant molecules. The cilia bind to the odorant molecules chemically, which triggers the neuron to send a signal to your brain, which is interpreted as a smell!
What you physically smell is entirely dependent on your DNA. Humans have about 6 million smell receptors in their nose, with a few hundred different types that enable us to smell up to 10,000 different kinds of scents. Each type of receptor is encoded by a different gene and responsible for identifying specific odors. Some people are missing some of these genes, which means some people cannot physically smell some odorants.
So that’s how smell works, but what makes smell better? What’s so much better about dogs’ noses, or about Slurpuff’s? The first difference is in the brain: a significantly larger portion (~40%) of a dogs’ brain is devoted to processing smell. The rest, naturally, is in the nose. I mentioned that humans have about 6 million smell receptors, which cover an area of about 1 square inch (a postage stamp) in the back of our nose. Dogs have over 300 million smell receptors, which cover an area of about 60 square inches (roughly a piece of paper) in their nose.
Lastly, a dog’s nose separates the incoming air into two different parts: one for breathing, and one for smelling! Overall, this just makes their nose much more efficient, and much more sensitive. A dogs’ nose can detect as an odorant as little as 1 part per trillion. They can smell a human fingerprint that’s a week old.
According to the pokédex, Slurpuff’s sense of smell is 100 million times better than a humans. Slurpuff could essentially smell anything and everything, from miles away to weeks old. Slurpuff could have as many as 1 billion smell receptors in it’s nose, which cover several thousand square inches of nose, all folded up inside of its head. And what does it choose do with this power? Slurpuff helps out in pastry kitchens.
Slurpuff’s nose contains about 1 billion smell receptors which cover a surface area of several thousand square inches, which gives it a far superior sense of smell than a human or a dog.