Baby Scent and Dads

  by  |  October 28th, 2008  |  Published in All, Animals & Life Science, Featured

 |  Stumble |  Share on Facebook |  Tweet This | 

Even the toughest dads can get warm and fuzzy when it comes to their kids. Now researchers studying monkeys have found that’s not just an attitude, it’s a physical response to the mere scent of their infant. This ScienCentral News video explains.

[If you cannot see the flash video below, you can click here for a high quality mp4 video.]

Interviewee: Toni Ziegler,Wisconsin National Primate Research Center Produced by Joyce Gramza — Edited by James Eagan
Copyright © ScienCentral, Inc.

Manly and Mushy

Nothing melts manly into mushy like fatherhood. Now a study of
marmoset monkeys reveals how the mere scent of his baby turns dad from protector to parent, by ratcheting down levels of the male hormone testosterone.

"We have found when they are smelling the infant scent they have hormonal changes which may make them more maternal-like, more interested in bonding with an infant, whereas when their testosterone goes up, they may be more ready to, say, defend their family," says lead researcher Toni Ziegler, a senior scientist at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Also on ScienCentral

"Testosterone is known for increasing muscle mass in males, and it also has behavioral effects, such as a tendency to make one more aggressive, which might be important if you need to protect your family," Ziegler explains. "It’s also very much involved in mating behavior, and increased testosterone occurs when males are mating, or interested in, or interacting with a female that may be ovulating."

"You don’t normally think of someone that’s providing a lot of care for an infant to be aggressive or be interested in mating," she adds. "So this way, a father can respond with lower testosterone at a time when he’s interacting with his infant, but at times when he needs to be more protective of the family his testosterone is able to change and respond to the environment."

Ziegler and her colleagues study marmoset monkeys because they are similar to human families, with both parents involved in childcare.

"That’s why we’re so interested in studying them," she says. "They make such a great model for humans because these marmosets actually live in families where the male and the female both take care of the infants. As infants are born and they get older, they also learn how to take care of the infants by taking care of their younger siblings. So it’s a nice family environment and everyone is involved in infant care." That’s important because female marmosets usually have twins, she says. "These twins are relatively big in relationship to the mother’s size when they’re born, so she needs a lot of help in caring for these infants– it’s a high energetic demand."

Fast and Flexible

The researchers placed either infant scents or a background scent onto wooden dowels and let either fathers or single males smell them for ten minutes. As they wrote in "Biology Letters," they allowed another ten minutes for the males’ brains to process the scents, then measured their testosterone levels. While the scent of their own infant dampened dads’ testosterone, single males showed no significant change.

Ziegler is impressed at the power of baby’s scent to trigger this physiological response in their father. She and her colleagues have been using MRI imaging to learn how marmosets’ brains respond to different environmental stimuli, including olfactory cues. The need for reliable odors to use in this research is what led her to wonder about the effects of infant scents.

She’s also impressed at the speed of the response. "It happened within 20 minutes, so it’s a very rapid change– showing the brain in the fathers is actually processing this (the smell) very quickly and then the hormone system is responding to that," she says.

Ziegler says finding that the testosterone system has evolved to be so flexible highlights the importance of dad’s bond to his offspring.

"When you have social systems where the family is all-important, I think these bonds really need to be there. And that’s sort of the message for humans," she says.

So dads, now you know why it’s so easy for your kid to make a monkey out of you.

This research was published online in Biology Letters, August 26, 2008, and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Elsewhere on the Web:
Wisconsin National Primate Research Center
Research on Marmoset Paternity Leads to Genetic Discovery—University of Nebraska, Lincoln news release

 |  Stumble |  Share on Facebook |  Tweet This | 


  1. rypitch says:

    October 28th, 2008 at 1:42 pm (#)

    Very interesting reaction. I wonder what effect the child's scent has on the mother?

  2. Lois Ann McCollum says:

    December 12th, 2010 at 9:40 am (#)

    Hi Toni, Uncle Oscar tried to send you an email the other day and it wouldn’t go thru. Have you changed it?
    Love, Lois Ann and Oscar

  3. Puja And Homam says:

    May 9th, 2013 at 12:48 am (#)

    When I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me
    when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I
    receive 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

  4. winrar password remover says:

    June 5th, 2013 at 5:46 pm (#)

    Silver Key, by default, uses the AES encryption algorithm,
    but you can change these and other settings by invoking the Crypto Settings utility from your Silver Key program
    folder. Like a safe in a house can PGP Virtual disks
    be locked and unlocked on the fly without interfering with other parts of the computer or user experience.
    To uninstaller Winrar you really should first go by way of the usual windows

  5. plants vs zombies download says:

    July 11th, 2013 at 1:51 pm (#)

    This will likely seem too very much regarding younger people to have their mind about, nevertheless
    I have been amazed just how well the kids (A few, 6 along with 6)
    have got to barefoot jogging. In this game you have to work the colored bits in the
    correct sequence to win the game. Plants not only shooting from
    left to right, but also from right to left.

  6. Jamey Treinen says:

    July 15th, 2013 at 4:21 pm (#)

    Website worth reviewing…

  7. pdf crop says:

    July 24th, 2013 at 12:11 am (#)

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!
    Extremely useful information particularly the last part :) I
    care for such info a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a very long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  8. how do i answer interview questions says:

    July 24th, 2013 at 3:16 am (#)

    I got this site from my buddy who shared with me concerning this web site and at the
    moment this time I am visiting this website and reading very
    informative articles here.

  9. says:

    July 28th, 2013 at 5:18 am (#)

    Preparing the meal together with your spouse
    can also be fun. Then you can dip them into liquid batter and fry them.

    Using only flour, the crust frequently falls off in the
    oil, doesn’t stick that well to the chicken and is soggy.

  10. webkinz code generator says:

    July 31st, 2013 at 8:00 pm (#)

    This is hard for some parents to understand, as the only reaction they know for
    nail biting is punishing and threatening the kids.
    Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of physical activity, preferably every day.
    I truly logged in myself and took a seem about and I was pleasantly shocked.

  11. acompanhantes rio de janeiro says:

    August 1st, 2013 at 10:52 pm (#)

    naturally like your web-site however you have to take a look
    at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I
    to find it very troublesome to inform the reality then again I’ll surely come again again.

  12. says:

    March 14th, 2014 at 5:53 am (#)

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I do think that you should publish more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but typically folks don’t speak about these topics.

    To the next! All the best!!

  13. says:

    March 18th, 2014 at 3:10 am (#)

    What may have a nice sounding name could have a very
    strange meaning indeed, or vice versa. It is very important that one does not feed on
    junk foods that are likely to increase their fat contents.
    As some couples do get an ultrasound for the mother five months into her pregnancy,
    they could be sure what clothes for a particular sex to buy.

  14. purchase email lists business says:

    July 12th, 2014 at 3:09 am (#)

    Hі thedre colleagues, pleasant post and pleasant arguments commented аt this place, I am actuallу enjoying by tɦese.

    mу web page :: purchase email lists business

  15. Muscle X Pro says:

    July 16th, 2014 at 12:35 am (#)

    Hey this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use
    WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    my homepage :: Muscle X Pro

  16. Flawless Beauty Skin Care says:

    July 20th, 2014 at 3:36 pm (#)

    If you are going for most excellent contents like I do,
    just pay a visit this web site every day as it provides feature contents, thanks

    Visit my website :: Flawless Beauty Skin Care

  17. does raspberry ketone works says:

    July 29th, 2014 at 6:21 pm (#)

    does raspberry ketone works

    Baby Scent and Dads | ScienCentral | Science Videos | Science News :: ScienCentral | Science Videos | Science News

  18. RAVENELL says:

    August 6th, 2014 at 9:53 pm (#)

    Hiya, You may have done a great job. I’ll definitely delicious the idea plus in my watch suggest to help my girlfriends. Now i’m positive they will be took advantage of this site.

  19. best skin care line says:

    September 9th, 2014 at 8:42 am (#)

    After looking into a few of the articles on your blog, I really like your technique of writing a blog.
    I bookmarked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my web site as well and tell me how you feel.

    Visit my web blog best skin care line

  20. Silvia says:

    November 3rd, 2014 at 1:29 am (#)

    Excellent blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    Feel free to surf to my blog My Internet Income System
    Kit (Silvia)

  21. says:

    June 20th, 2015 at 1:09 am (#)

    It’s amazing in favor of me to have a website, which is good for my experience.
    thanks admin

  22. Lumare Skin says:

    August 18th, 2015 at 10:33 am (#)

    This is a really glod tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Short buut very precise information… Thanms for sharing
    this one. A must read post!

    For a better solution please view this amazing site;
    Lumare Skin

  23. Nutragentex Muscle says:

    August 20th, 2015 at 7:21 am (#)

    My family members every time say that I am wasting my time here at net, however I know I am getting experience daily by
    reading thes good posts.

  24. read the article says:

    September 1st, 2017 at 9:52 pm (#)

    read the article

    Baby Scent and Dads | ScienCentral | Science Videos | Science News :: ScienCentral | Science Videos | Science News

Leave a Response


Clicky Web Analytics