Though it’s been previously suggested that zombies would probably not be able to smell anything other than their own rotting bodies, ZRS Researcher Seth Lipsky proposes that the undead may benefit from some form of postmortem super-smell.  His argument strangely stems from a common side effect observed in users of psychedelic drugs.

Hyperosmia is a condition in humans that causes an acute increase in the ability to smell.  It is often seen in patients with cluster headaches or migraines, but tests have shown that recreational use of LSD can result in the same or similar outcome.

“It’s commonly accepted that zombies are driven by their brains.  Therefore, it stands to reason that a brain disorder affording the living a tremendous increase in their sense of smell may also be at work in the undead.”

Lipsky further points out that people with Addison’s disease, a disorder wherein the adrenal glands produce insufficient steroid hormones, are also inclined to suffer from Hyperosmia.  Because zombies are likely not producing needed steroids with their limited body functions, a de facto Addison’s scenario could be at work.

So the next time you find yourself in a town full of hungry zombies, hiding out for them to pass by might not be such a good idea.  If Lipsky’s theory is correct, they’ll be able to smell their dinner from miles away.  And in this case, dinner is YOU!


  1. great post and comments guys!

  2. Flippo the Hippo

    Not only do I keep learning about zombies but now I know that my acute sense of smell is possibly from my migraines. Of course that will pay off in being able to smell the horde before they get near, Yay!

  3. Smell is the only “special sense” involving nuclei documented to undergo neurogenesis in adulthood and with direct afferent cranial nerve innervation not limited by a thalamic relay. Not only is smell not likely to be as easily degraded as other senses following the transformation of the undead, it may indeed be enhanced by the withdrawal of competing cortical inputs. Receptor adaptation may reduce the impact of the constant stench of decaying flesh, but perception of novel or distinct odors may be sharp. Come the apocalypse, stop bathing and rub yourself in the results of your first kill. Like deer urine, it will mask to distinctive odor of vitality, and provide an element of stank-mouflage.
    Kudos my colleague. Well thought.
    Dr. M.B. Harris
    Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Necrophysiology
    University of Alaska Fairbanks

    • I always pictured the undead as having a kind of Synesthesia, where sight is replaced by a visual type interpretation of sound and smell.. Pheramone trails, and the fearful hushed wispers of the livings beating heart shine out to them.. A white hot beacon in the darkness.. It’s not just about stink.. There are far more subilties to scent than just B.O.

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