Primate smell decay

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Matthew Cobb wrote recently about olfactory receptor evolution in primates: “You smell like a chimp.. and like a marmoset”.

This figure shows how many of those 550-odd genes each species has lost over the last 48 MY or so (in the white bar on the right). Probable gene duplications are shown with a plus sign on the right of the bars, followed by the total number of functional ORs for each species. The number of genes that were lost at each branching event in our evolutionary tree are shown on the left. Strikingly, the same number OR genes were lost at the point we split with the strepsirhines (51 arrowhead) and when we and the chimps split from the orangutans.

It’s really inconvenient that we can’t predict what these receptors detect from their sequence.