BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Dogs have a type of infrared sensor on the tip of their nose, which allows them to detect small changes in temperature, such as when other animals are nearby, according to new research.
Scientists at Lund University in Sweden and Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary say the discovery may help to better understand how predators detect their prey when other senses, such as sight, hearing or smell, are impaired.
In their study published in Scientific Reports, a journal published by Nature Research, scientists found that the surface of the naked, wet skin on the tip of a dog's nose, filled with nerve endings, functioned as an infrared sensor.
"Dogs are able to sense thermal radiation from hot bodies or weak thermal radiation and can also direct their behavior according to that signal," said Anna Balint, the study's lead author.
"We tested whether we can find an area in the brain that shows greater activity if exposed to a hotter object than a colder object," she said.
Brain scans showed increased brain activity when dogs were given objects warmer than the environment.
"It is possible that other carnivores have a similar infrared sense and this adds a new chapter to the history of prey-predator relationships," said Ronald Kroger, sensory scientist at Lund University.
"Predator hunting strategies need to be reevaluated and the biology of animals of prey must be revisited with predators sensitive to body heat in mind," he added.
Among the dogs involved in the test were golden retrievers and border collies.
Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo; Written by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Alexandra Hudson
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