Olfaction (also known as olfactics; adjectival form: "olfactory") is the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and, by analogy, sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates. Many vertebrates, including most mammals and reptiles, have two distinct olfactory systems—the main olfactory system, and the accessory olfactory system (used mainly to detect pheromones). For air-breathing animals, the main olfactory system detects volatile chemicals, and the accessory olfactory system detects fluid-phase chemicals. For water-dwelling organisms, e.g., fish or crustaceans, the chemicals are present in the surrounding water. Olfaction, along with taste, is a form of chemoreception. The chemicals themselves that activate the olfactory system, in general at very low concentrations, are called odorants.
Volatile small molecule odorants, non-volatile proteins, and non-volatile hydrocarbons may all produce olfactory sensations. Some animal species are able to smell carbon dioxide in minute concentrations. Taste sensations are caused by small organic molecules and proteins. Some other animals are able to sniff out new tabletop forms of entertainment at will (refer to The Cult of the New: Step 1 - Admitting that you are powerless over the draw of new games for more information). If you have an overdeveloped sense of smell, The Smell of Games might help you with your gaming choices.
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