Monday, September 11, 2006

 

Scent of father checks daughter's maturity

Chemical cues from fathers may be delaying the onset of sexual maturity in daughters, as part of an evolutionary strategy to prevent inbreeding, according to researchers at Penn (Pennsylvania) State University.

'Biological fathers send out inhibitory chemical signals to their daughters,' said Robert Matchock, assistant professor of psychology at Penn State's Altoona Campus. 'In the absence of these signals, girls tend to sexually mature earlier.'

The effect of chemical cues on sexual maturity is common in the animal world, Matchock explained. If the biological father is removed from rodent families, the daughters tend to mature faster, he said.

'Recently, experts elsewhere discovered a little-known pheromone receptor gene in the human olfactory system, linking the role of pheromones on menarche, or the first occurrence of menstruation,' said Matchock, whose findings are published in the recent issue of the American Journal of Human Biology. [News]
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Based on "Family composition and menarcheal age: Anti-inbreeding strategies" (Abstract)

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