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Study looks at why ring-tailed lemurs raise a stink when they flirt with potential mates

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A University of Toronto study finds that a unique ritual performed by male ring-tailed lemurs may come at a significant physical cost, but it likely helps their chances in securing a mate.

Ring-tailed lemurs are Strepsirrhines, a sub-order of primates who share a common ancestor with humans. They are very social animals, living in large groups with females dominating the group. Like other lemurs, they huddle in large groups in order to keep warm and maintain social bonds, with lower ranking males often excluded.

A University of Toronto study finds that a unique ritual performed by male ring-tailed lemurs may come at a significant physical cost, but it likely helps their chances in securing a mate.

Ring-tailed lemurs are Strepsirrhines, a sub-order of primates who share a common ancestor with humans. They are very social animals, living in large groups with females dominating the group. Like other lemurs, they huddle in large groups in order to keep warm and maintain social bonds, with lower ranking males often excluded.

Scent is incredibly important to ring-tailed lemurs. Males use their scent glands to mark territory and often engage in so-called "stink-fighting" displays where they rub their tails in their scent before wafting it at an opponent.

While stink-fighting is well known, stink-flirting, where males do scent-wafting displays towards a potential female mate, is less understood. The U of T study is the first to look at these displays and their role in terms of male rank and female mate choice.

 

Continue reading at University of Toronto.

Image via University of Toronto.