If we were to speak of a literary character with a unique power of attraction, that would undoubtedly be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Created in 1813 by Jane Austen in the novel Pride and Prejudice, he is a figure that continues to fall in love with for his charisma and personality. It is not surprising, therefore, that a group of researchers from Columbia University chose this name to baptize a pheromone: darcin.
However, yes, it is not just any pheromone. Media in the reproductive processes of some animals, such as mice. The chemical attraction it generates is so intense that it has attracted the attention of much of the scientific community.
The reason for this goes beyond even its great power of attraction. This chemical substance alters brain regions such as the amygdala, an area that, as we well know, mediates emotions such as fear or anger. The presence of darcin numbs these instincts and awakens other types of behaviors, other types of reactions … We analyze them.
Darcin: what is it and how does it work?
Darcin is a pheromone. Remember, this type of chemical substances secreted by living beings have a very specific capacity: to change behavior. These particles have a decisive relevance in the world of animals. For example, when an ant perceives a danger, it secretes a substance that is instantly detected by other individuals. Before long, they all prepare for defense and attack.
In butterflies, on the other hand, pheromones are crucial for sexual courtship. The male rubs some fine hairs on his head and instantly, the female falls before him. Now, scientists have discovered another type of chemical compound with a high potential for attraction: darcin.
A single protein capable of changing the brain
The Columbia University work was published in the journal Nature. Ebru Demir, first author of the article, points out that the discovery of this hormone, which they have called darcin, gives us a clue as to how a single protein can alter the animal brain.
The discovery and the research itself focuses exclusively on animal models and specifically on mice. It has been seen that when the male emanates this hormone through the urine, the sexual desire of the partners is activated and the behavior changes completely. The effect, once this substance becomes volatile, is almost immediate: the females take between 10 and 50 minutes to respond.
The link between the nose and the brain
Mice resemble ourselves in various processes. Therefore, they use them as we know with experimental animals in the laboratory. Now, there are nuances that make rats unique creatures and one of those characteristics is their nose, or rather, their two noses.
The first works like ours, that is, it detects odors and acts on them: it flees from unpleasant ones and delights in pleasant ones, often identifying them as food. However , rats also have a vomernasal nose that evolved in the brain of females exclusively to detect darcin.
Once this pheromone appears in the environment when the male delimits the territory with urine, they detect it instantly. There is a direct link between that second nose and the brain, so that the latter is instantly transformed to change behavior. What they do is sing, that is, they emit an invaluable sound for us to indicate to the male that they are receptive.
Does or can humans have the darcin pheromone?
At this point, it is inevitable to ask the following question: does human beings have this type of pheromone? The answer is no. So far, darcin has only been seen in animal models, specifically in mice.
The second question we can ask ourselves is whether it would be possible to synthesize darcin artificially to generate this type of attraction in other people. The answer again is no. In fact, as much as the perfume industries try to design these types of substances to sell us the idea that certain smells can be irresistible to others, none of this is proven.
The great laboratories throb with this idea and more, when they learn of the existence of darcin. However, today there is no erotic elixir capable of generating that level of attraction.
So far, some perfume manufacturers have even synthesized hormones such as androstenedione and estratetraenol in the laboratory. Now, experts tell us that what really works in humans is not really pheromones, but the body odor of our partners, of those people who already attract us previously.
For example, it will be useless to spray ourselves with a darcin perfume to make someone we don’t know at all feel 100% attracted to us instantly. At the moment, at least, there is no such possibility …
5 curiosities about pheromones
Many curiosities have been discovered about pheromones that, however, have more to do with animals than with humans.