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Do you remember your first romantic kiss? For some, it is the memory that defined their best summer, whilst for others, it was an experience tinged with embarrassment and awkwardness. Countless romantic comedies would have us believe that kissing is a natural universal behaviour. However, a new study has revealed that the practice isn’t as common as it may appear.

The study, which looked at couples in 168 world cultures, found that only 46% practiced kissing in the romantic sense. The Mehinaku tribe in Brazil went so far as to call it “gross”. Some researchers believe that kissing is a product of western societies, passed on from one generation to the next, although evidence shows that it may have been practised in other cultures.

The oldest evidence of a kissing in human societies comes from Hindu Vedic Sanskrit texts from over 3,500 years ago. Kissing was described as ‘inhaling each other’s soul’. Students of many disciplines, including Archaeology and Anthropology, Classics and History, may be interested in exploring how ancient texts help us to understand today’s socially accepted norms.

It is argued that animals may not need to kiss as they are more likely to use their sense of smell to determine physical attraction. The variety of means by which animals attract their mates is remarkable, with the poison-eating antics of the great bustard being a case in point. Biology students may consider how such practices have come about by the process of evolution, while also delving deeper into the similarities and differences between human and animal pheromones and how this impacts laws of attraction. 

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