According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the nose is “the part projecting above the mouth on the face of a person or animal, containing the nostrils and used for breathing and smelling.” And the description admittedly doesn’t sound very special. But this central facial feature does so much; it can even potentially sniff out life-threatening health conditions that you didn’t know you have.
Before 2014 scientists had estimated that the human nose could discern about 10,000 scents. However, researchers held onto a feeling that the sniffer could actually distinguish many more than that; they just needed a testing method to prove the theory. So in 2014 a team presented their research, which had been conducted with the help of odorous molecules, and it revealed something spectacular about our noses.
After all, it turns out that the human nose can decipher many, many more than just 10,000 scents. The updated research found that that figure was closer to one trillion smells, at least. Indeed, the study’s co-author Andreas Keller told Nature that the research proved a common conception about humans to be untrue. “My hope is that this helps to dispel the myth that humans have a bad sense of smell,” he said.