"A wounded minnow attempts to rejoin its school and the other minnows scatter in panic; a single beetle finds a pine tree to its liking and soon thousands of beetles swarm that tree and others in the vicinity; a male Syrian golden hamster is drawn along an invisible trail to a burrow where a female hamster awaits him, ready for mating. These animals are responding to received communications, but, as in countless other occurrences in nature, the language is not auditory or visual--it is chemical." "Unlike humans, who gather information largely through sight and sound, most living creatures rely heavily on chemical compounds from other organisms for their basic knowledge of the world. Among the various types of these compounds are the chemical signals exchanged between members of the same species that govern social interactions crucial to survival. These signals are called pheromones (from the Greek "pherein"--to carry--and "hormon"--exciting) and they are used to send warnings, establish territorial boundaries, provoke aggression, control sexual behavior, and locate food.
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Henry Holt and Co.
April 14, 1992
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