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vomeronasal organ


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A special ‘smell-taste’ organ in the hard palate of many mammals; it opens by ducts into the roof of the mouth behind the incisors. The facial gesture called flehmen guides olfactory molecules into the vomeronasal organ, where odours, especially sexual ones, appear to be interpreted. In primates, the organ is functional in lemurs, tarsiers, and New World monkeys; in catarrhines, including humans, it begins to develop in embryos, but later degenerates. The vomeronasal organ is also present in amphibians, lizards, and snakes.

Subjects: Psychology — Zoology and Animal Sciences.


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