Male monkeys who wash with their own urine ‘are sexually attractive’

Friday, February 25, 2011

LONDON - A study has discovered that an odd habit amongst Capuchin monkeys, who urinate onto their hands then rub their urine over their bodies into their fur, do it to attract females.

It so happens that the brains of female tufted capuchins become more active when they smell the urine of sexually mature adult males, the study found.

Earlier theories suggested that they do it to maintain body temperature or allow other monkeys to better identify an individual by smell.

“But one study reported that when being solicited by a female, adult males increased their rate of urine-washing,” the BBC quoted primatologist Dr Kimberley Phillips at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, US, as saying.

“Since female capuchins [when they are most fertile] actively solicit males, we reasoned that urine washing by males might provide chemical information to the females about their sexual or social status,” she added.

To confirm her theory, Phillips analysed MRI scans of female monkeys; the scans revealed that their brains became significantly more active when they sniffed the scent of urine produced by adult males compared to that from juveniles.

“Female capuchin monkey brains react differently to the urine of adult males than to urine of juvenile males,” said Phillips.

“We suggest that this is used as a form of communication to convey social and or sexual status.”

The findings are published in the American Journal of Primatology. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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