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'Death Stench' Is A Universal Ancient Warning Signal

The smell of recent death or injury that repels living relatives of insects has been identified as a truly ancient signal that functions to avoid disease or predators, biologists have discovered.
 David Rollo, professor of biology at McMaster University, found that corpses of animals, from insects to crustaceans, all emit the same death stench produced by a blend of specific fatty acids.
The findings have been published in the journal Evolutionary Biology.
Rollo and his team made the discovery while they were studying the social behavior of cockroaches. When a cockroach finds a good place to live it marks the site with pheromone odours that attract others. In trying to identify the precise chemicals involved, Rollo extracted body juices from dead cockroaches.
"It was amazing to find that the cockroaches avoided places treated with these extracts like the plague," says Rollo. "Naturally, we wanted to identify what chemical was making them all go away."
The team eventually identified the specific chemicals that signaled death. Furthermore, they found that the same fatty acids not only signaled death in ants, caterpillars, and cockroaches, they were equally effective in terrestrial woodlice and pill bugs that are actually not insects but crustaceans related to crayfish and lobsters.

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