Scientists use Obsession for Men to lure reclusive jaguars; what might it do for you?

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Miguel Ordeñana, a biologist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, found that the Calvin Klein scent Obsession for Men was effective in luring nocturnal animals. It was a Bronx Zoo researcher who made the discovery.

The Wildlife Conservation Society and Panthera released camera trap footage from Uganda’s Kibale National Park showing a rarely seen African golden cat. The cat was recorded scent-marking after it was attracted to a camera site baited with Calvin Klein Obsession for Men. (Video courtesy of Wildlife Conservation Society and Panthera)
November 18, 2013
Obsession
Why jaguars love Calvin Klein cologne
“You’ll Never Guess How Biologists Lure Jaguars To Camera Traps,” ScientificAmerican.com

Researchers studying elusive, nocturnal animals often use camera traps, which are triggered when the creature comes close to them. So what’s the best way to get these animals to come close enough to get a photo or video? According to Scientific American’s The Thoughtful Animal blog, researchers swear by Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men.

Miguel Ordeñana, a biologist with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, who studies the solitary, night-hunting jaguars of Nicaragua, tells the blog that a Bronx Zoo researcher experimented with other scents before happening on the attraction of the Calvin Klein cologne. (A four-ounce bottle sells at Macy’s for $71.)

“It has civetone and it has vanilla extract,” Ordeñana told the blog, which pointed out that “civetone is a chemical compound derived from the scent glands of civets, smallish nocturnal cat-like critters native to the Asian and African tropics, and it’s one of the world’s oldest perfume ingredients.” (Modern scentmakers often use synthetic versions of civetone.)

According to Ordeñana, “What we think is that the civetone resembles some sort of territorial marking to the jaguar, and so it responds by rubbing its own scent on it,” which gets the jaguars to trigger the camera. And the vanilla? It might prompt the cat’s curiosity.

This is important, the blog points out, because camera traps “help researchers collect evidence of rare species or rare behaviors, as was demonstrated last week when a camera trap captured shocking images of a golden eagle attacking a sika deer. Or they could help researchers come face to face with an animal that might otherwise be dangerous or harmful. An array of camera traps is also more cost efficient than paying an army of field assistants to observe animal behavior or to conduct a census.”


A otorongo or jaguar (Panthera onca) named Daniela stands at the Parque de Las Leyendas zoo in Lima, Peru. (MARIANA BAZO/REUTERS)

It’s unclear what relevance this might have for the guy who wears Obsession on a date. But if you’re planning to go on a safari, you might want to leave the scent at home.

Inventions
A cut above
Innovations blog, Smithsonian.com

You know how when you try to cut a straight line with a pair of scissors, the result is wobbly? Even following a line drawn with a ruler usually produces something not good enough for, say, that special Valentine card. And not everybody has a bulky (not to mention scary) paper cutter on hand.

Tamas Fekete, a first-year industrial design student in Budapest, came up with a solution: a pair of scissors designed to work with any rectangular tabletop to create a clean, straight cut. After six months of prototyping, blogger Tuan C. Nguyen writes, Fekete’s Vector scissors are ready. They have a thick left handle that rests on the tabletop and a right handle shaped to follow the table’s edge as the user cuts forward. The blades are curved so they don’t scratch the table. They look cool, but you can’t get them . . . yet.

“Fekete hasn’t publicly stated how he plans to bring Vector scissors to the mass market, and, as a foreigner, he isn’t allowed to launch a Kickstarter campaign just by himself,” Nguyen writes. “For now, there’s only an official Web site (www.vectorscissors.com) that lets people anxiously awaiting to wrap their fingers around one to sign up for future updates.”

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