Study: 'Male Goat Essence' Turns the Ladies On

Scientists knew that male goats' odor attracts females, but researchers found it does even more.

Billy goats mill about in a booth at an agricultural fair in February 2014 in Paris. A new study by Japanese researchers has found that male goats' distinctive odor not only attracts female goats, but actually chemically interacts with their hormonal systems.

Japanese researchers have found that male goats' distinctive odor not only attracts female goats, but chemically interacts with their hormonal systems as well.


Listen up, Calvin Klein: The best men’s scents for scoring with the opposite sex might not be in sandalwood or lavender.

Instead, researchers say, try the barn.

Scientists from Japan have found that “male goat essence” – the distinctive “goaty odor” that’s already well-known for attracting females – apparently also goes one step further: It literally turns them on.

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"A novel chemical that had never been demonstrated in nature before" appears to help activate "the reproduction center in the female for mating,” explained Yukari Takeuchi, one of the study’s co-authors.

What’s more, the findings ultimately may “apply to other livestock, and perhaps even to humans, too,” according to a statement on the study.

"This discovery opens a new avenue toward … the development of novel and more natural technology for increasing the reproductive efficiency of livestock animals such as sheep and goats, which are economically important worldwide," according to the researchers' article.

The researchers discovered that the odor is mostly synthesized in the skin on male goats’ heads, so they strapped custom-made hats onto both normal and castrated goats to collect some of their special essence, then analyzed and compared what they gathered.

The normal goats emitted several specific chemicals, including one called 4-ethyloctanal. That chemical, which oxidizes into 4-ethyloctanoic acid – a main ingredient of the goat smell –activates a hormone generator in the female brain, one that’s connected to the reproductive system. In short, it helps trigger not “immediate sexual behaviors,” but instead “the long-term physiological events required for ovulation and reproduction,” the statement on the research said.

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Much work remains to be done to determine the full implications of the study, which was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology. But the goat odor did share at least one trait with some of today’s colognes: It’s got a distinctive citrus-y scent.