Elemental sulfur identified in urine of cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus
The original publication is available at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10886-006-9056-5
The urine of the cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is almost odorless, and probably for this reason, it has not attracted much attention from scientists. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we identified 27 and 37 constituents in the headspace vapor of the urine of male and female cheetah, respectively. These constituents, composed of hydrocarbons, short-chain ethers, aldehydes, saturated and unsaturated cyclic and acyclic ketones, 2-acetylfuran, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl sulfone, phenol, myristic acid (tetradecanoic acid), urea, and elemental sulfur, are all present in the headspace vapor in very small quantities; dimethyl disulfide is present in such a low concentration that it cannot be detected by the human nose. This is only the second example of elemental sulfur being secreted or excreted by an animal. It is hypothesized that the conversion of sulfur-containing compounds in the cheetah's diet to elemental sulfur and to practically odorless dimethyl sulfone enables this carnivore to operate as if "invisible" to the olfactory world of its predators as well as its prey, which would increase its chances of survival. © Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006.