Friday, February 25, 2011

Monkeys Urinate On Themselves To Attract A Mate

Capuchin monkeys, that are found across Central and South America, routinely urinate in their hands and rub the liquid around their body.

The reason for the strange habit has been a mystery to scientists for years.

Some thought the urine lowered body temperature, while others claimed it enabled the monkeys to identify particular individuals by smell.

Now the mystery has been solved. A new study, published in the American Journal of Primatology, has found the urine ‘turns on’ female monkeys.

Researchers at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, carried out brain scans of female tufted capuchins as they sniffed the urine. The urine of sexually mature males produced more activity than the urine of juveniles.

This suggests males wash with their urine to signal their availability and attractiveness to females.

Dr Kimberley Phillips, a primatologist, said females know which males to pursue from the smell of the urine.

“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 told the BBC.

Full story here.

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