Men and women have different scent profiles in their hands.

Men and women have different scent profiles in their hands.

New Study Reveals That Scent Can Help Solve Crimes

By Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter


Dogs have long been recognized for their ability to track and find individuals based on scent. This extraordinary trait has aided numerous criminal investigations. However, a recent discovery by laboratory scientists suggests that not only can dogs discern scents, but humans can too, potentially advancing the field of crime-solving.

In a groundbreaking study published on July 5 in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers revealed that scent compounds found in the palms of men and women differ significantly. By analyzing these compounds, the scientists were able to predict an individual’s sex with nearly 97% accuracy. This newfound knowledge could prove invaluable for law enforcement agents in tracking down criminals.

The researchers, led by Kenneth Furton, the chief scientific officer at Florida International University, note that crimes such as robberies, assaults, and rapes often involve the use of hands. As a result, there may be trace evidence left at the crime scene that could potentially aid in identifying the culprit.

Moreover, this discovery builds upon existing research that suggests scent compounds can also provide information about a person’s age and ethnic background. The ability to analyze hand odor volatiles could compensate for situations in which other discriminatory evidence, such as DNA, is lacking. It could help differentiate or characterize individuals based on sex, race, and age. Furton and colleagues highlight the potential of this approach in their journal news release as they state, “This approach to analyzing hand odor volatiles can be applied when other discriminatory evidence such as DNA is lacking and allow for differentiation or class characterization such as sex, race, and age.”

To conduct their study, the research team employed a technique called mass spectrometry to analyze scent compounds on the palms of 60 individuals, with half of them being male and the other half female. Through this analysis, the team successfully identified the compounds present in each sample. They then performed a statistical analysis to determine if the individual’s sex could be inferred based on their scent profile. Remarkably, the analysis yielded correct results 96.67% of the time.

Despite the success of their initial findings, further validation is necessary before this method can be extensively implemented. However, the authors are optimistic about its potential to uncover important details about perpetrators through their hand scent profiles.

In conclusion, the fascinating world of scent continues to astound researchers and open up new avenues in various fields. Not only can dogs use their keen sense of smell to solve crimes, but humans may possess this ability as well, albeit in a different way. The newly discovered differences in scent compounds found in the palms of men and women offer a promising opportunity for law enforcement to enhance their investigation techniques and potentially identify perpetrators. By harnessing the power of scent, we may unlock valuable insights and aid in the pursuit of justice.