Why scenic views are beautiful.

Whenever the wind blows while Margaret (the dog) is sitting on the roof outside our window (which she does often), she puts her nose in the air, closes her eyes and sniffs deeply, looking very satisfied. Smelling the wind is apparently gratifying for her.

Watching this made me realize that if your primary sense is smell, than the wind must be a huge helper. It would be like the smell equivalent of looking in a telescope, letting you smell things which are far away. Utilizing the wind to smell things at a distance would have a clear evolutionary advantages, like to find hidden prey downwind. That is probably why smelling the wind is so enjoyable to her because beings evolve to find evolutionary advantageous behavior pleasurable.

I tried to think of a better human equivalent than a telescope, since those are obviously too recent an invention for humans to have evolved a desire for, and it struck me, viewing things from high in the air! Everyone I know finds the view from tall buildings or mountainsides beautiful. Houses which are on hills or on mountainsides, or offices on a hugh floor tend to be much more expensive because the panoramic view is pleasurable to look at. And no wonder: their are clear evolutionary advantages of being able to see for miles around you: Spotting approaching predators or enemies, scoping out prey.

So no wonder we find nice views beautiful. I wonder if dogs feel a similar sense of awe and wonder at a particularly strong and fragrant wind.

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