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As odor chemist George Preti of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia explains, ambergris molecules are lipophilic (fat-loving), as are perfume molecules, but the ambergris molecules are larger and heavier. "The odor molecules have a high affinity for the other lipophilic molecules, so they stay associated with the ambergris molecules and don't go into the vapor phase all at once," Preti says. American perfume companies no longer mix ambergris into their fragrances, most likely because of confusing legalities surrounding its sale here.

Lucas likens this behavior to that of bonobos, primates that can imitate some tonal patterns, including vowel sounds, pitch changes, and rhythms, studies show. "The vocal skills of some of the dogs and cats on YouTube suggest that they might also have some selective tonal imitation skills," he says. What's happening between dog and owner-turned-voice-coach is fairly straightforward, Coren says: Owner hears the dog making a sound that resembles a phrase, says the phrase back to the dog, who then repeats the sound and is rewarded with a treat.

The parents will welcome it back with open wings. --Originally published: Scientific American Online July 26, 2007. Pets Protect Children against Allergies by Melinda Wenner Pets do an awful lot for kids: they teach them about unconditional love, responsibility, death and, of course, pooper scoopers. But does a dog or cat also keep a child from developing allergies? " The idea that pets might provide an immune benefit stems from a controversial theory born in 1989 called the hygiene hypothesis.

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