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Are we chemically aposematic? Revisiting L. S. B. Leakey's hypothesis on human body odour

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dc.contributor.author Weldon, Paul J. en
dc.date.accessioned 2018-11-30T03:07:04Z
dc.date.available 2018-11-30T03:07:04Z
dc.date.issued 2018
dc.identifier.citation Weldon, Paul J. 2018. "<a href="https://repository.si.edu/handle/10088/94992">Are we chemically aposematic? Revisiting L. S. B. Leakey&#39;s hypothesis on human body odour</a>." <em>Biological Journal of the Linnean Society</em>. 125 (2):221&ndash;228. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/bly109">https://doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/bly109</a> en
dc.identifier.issn 0024-4066
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10088/94992
dc.description.abstract Aposematism entails a mutually beneficial avoidance of signal emitters by heterospecific signal receivers. The celebrated palaeoanthropologist L. S. B. Leakey hypothesized that humans are chemically aposematic, suggesting that our body odour repels large carnivores because they associate our &#39;bad smell&#39; with what he alleged is our unpalatable flesh. Unpalatability, however, is one of many unprofitable traits potentially denoted by aposematic signals. Moreover, aposematism may arise in interactions with offenders other than predators. Here, I propose that the body odour of humans and, historically, of hominins denotes chemical emitters who exhibit formidable defensive traits, including large body size, agility, vigilance and the capabilities of deploying projectiles and other weapons and/or marshalling group defences. This hypothesis maintains that selection acts against (1) offenders, including carnivores, that fail to avoid chemicals from hominins, and (2) hominins who fail to emit distinguishing chemicals, thereby giving rise to a chemically mediated avoidance that is mutually beneficial, i.e. chemical aposematism. This hypothesis is examined in light of information on free-ranging New and Old World carnivores that avoid humans and on non-domesticated mammals suspected or confirmed to avoid human scent. en
dc.relation.ispartof Biological Journal of the Linnean Society en
dc.title Are we chemically aposematic? Revisiting L. S. B. Leakey&#39;s hypothesis on human body odour en
dc.type Journal Article en
dc.identifier.srbnumber 149332
dc.identifier.doi 10.1093/biolinnean/bly109
rft.jtitle Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
rft.volume 125
rft.issue 2
rft.spage 221
rft.epage 228
dc.description.SIUnit NZP en
dc.description.SIUnit Peer-reviewed en
dc.citation.spage 221
dc.citation.epage 228

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