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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Sex on the beach and all around it or an orgy, the monkey style

An absolutely cool article. It appears that for female monkeys the race of the sperm is much better than choosing the best candidate. Which actually makes sense- the best swimmer will get "there" and it should be best at all. Probably.
Why I got interested in the article is because it reminded my of what our society could look like if we kept the natural matriarchat in place. Obviously the tribes
untouched by the civilisation don't mind staying naked most of the time, the monkeys prefer to use multiple sperm donors simultaneously and the father obviously don't care a lot of the children are theirs or not. Would that be our future if we weren't "guided" by our dear visitors, the nefilims? And is this future so bad? Yes, it sounds very...promiscuous, but actually we never gave it a chance. Yes, those tribes are at the lowest stage of development, but they were totally cut off the civilization, they never had the chance to enjoy the fruits of generations of smart people. What could we become if we took the other path-the path that our Neanderthal and early Cromanion ancestors followed? I don't know, but it's definitely interesting to find a planet with similar culture and see what it made out of it.

Monkeys eavesdrop on neighbours' orgasmic cries

The ejaculation-inducing cries of promiscuous female macaques during sex arouse other local males – perhaps to increase her chances of multiple matings

There's something kinky going on in the world of Barbary macaques. Researchers have found the males eavesdrop on their mates having sex in order to make sure they don't miss out on the fun – and to give their sperm a chance to compete in the great fertilisation race.

Female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) cry out during sex, and the call stimulates ejaculation in the male. The females can also slightly modify the call, making the male less likely to ejaculate.

Dana Pfefferle of the German Primate Center in Göttingen and her colleagues recorded ejaculatory and non-ejaculatory calls produced by females at La Forêt des Singes, a primate park at Rocamadour in France where Barbary macaques roam freely.

They then hid a speaker in the park foliage, not far from a resting male, and played the recorded cries.

Males showed strong responses to ejaculatory calls. They turned around and looked in the direction from which the call came for roughly twice as long, and in some cases rose and approached the speaker.

Strategic mating

Pfefferle made sure the recorded female was never around during the playback experiments, so the other males could not find her. Upon hearing the ejaculatory calls, males did however approach other females and checked their genitals for the swelling that indicates they are fertile.

Hearing an ejaculatory call is a signal to other males that "sperm competition" for fertilisation has commenced. Keen to get in on the race, other males will approach the female.

"There's a conflict between male and female reproductive success," says Pfefferle. "Females should try to be choosy and get only the best male genetic material." Males on the other hand may be best off trying to fertilise as many females as possible.

The strategy adopted – whether females are choosy or promiscuous – depends on the species' social structure, says Pfefferle.

In Barbary macaques, females are all fertile at roughly the same time. During that period, females and males mate frequently and indiscriminately.

"It's all about sperm competition," Pfefferle told New Scientist. "I think the female wants to get as much sperm as possible to 'choose' which genetic material is passed on to her offspring."

Many dads

Another recent study led by Pfefferle's colleague Michael Heistermann also at the German Primate Center, has shown that even though dominant males do not monopolise Barbary females, they sire 80% of infants (Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, DOI: 10.1007/s00265-008-0575-7, in press).

Allowing sperm to compete inside the female conceals the paternity of the infant once it is born. The advantage of this is unclear. It may be a way of giving them more carers, as male Barbary macaques are heavily involved in the upbringing of infants.

Barbary macaques live in Morocco and Algeria, as well as a small population on the Rock of Gibraltar. With roughly 14,000 wild individuals left, they are vulnerable to extinction.

"Understanding what their strategies are to ensure high reproductive success may eventually help with conservation efforts, although at the moment the main threat to them is the destruction of their habitat," says Heistermann.

Journal reference: Animal Behaviour (DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.12.003) source

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