June 6, 2020


Aim for Excellence

Lemur Flirting Uses Common Scents

When planning for a day, a human may use a tiny spritz of cologne or...

When planning for a day, a human may use a tiny spritz of cologne or fragrance. And male ring-tailed lemurs also splash on some cologne to impress the women. The only difference is they secrete their have scents from glands close to their wrists. And in the course of the breeding period, the males rub the secretions from their wrists on to their tails and then wave the tails close to women. Researchers really call this behavior “stink flirting.”

Biologists previously realized that lemurs have scent glands and that they use them to talk their social rank or to discover their territories. Experts also realized that occasionally males use their scent glands as section of a dominance exhibit from prospective rivals. But no person had seriously seemed to see whether the women ended up relying on the males’ scents as section of their mate-collection course of action.

No one till Kazushige Touhara, a biological chemist at the College of Tokyo. Doing the job at a wildlife laboratory, he and his team gathered the secretions from male ring-tailed lemurs’ wrist glands twice a thirty day period for a number of decades. In an e-mail, he explained the males’ scent as “fruity and floral.” The scientists discovered three chemical compounds in the secretions that ended up in greater concentrations in the course of the breeding season—which suggested that these chemicals, all of which are prolonged-chain fatty aldehydes, may be included in mating and reproductive behaviors.

Immediately after figuring out the three compounds, the scientists soaked cotton balls in a wide variety of smelly substances, then offered them to feminine [ring-tailed lemurs]. And the woman lemurs used much more time sniffing cotton balls that ended up infused with the three aldehydes—especially in the course of the breeding period.

Far more research is vital to be positive, but Touhara says this is the initially time a intercourse pheromone has potentially been discovered in a primate. The findings are in the journal Existing Biology. [Mika Shirasu et al., Key male glandular odorants attracting feminine ring-tailed lemurs]

When none of these three compounds have however been discovered in the secretions of any other primate, they have been located in lamb wool. Their presence indicates that these substances may assist new child sheep realize their moms. And a single of the chemicals also acts as a intercourse pheromone in two different styles of insects—which signifies that these varieties of prolonged-chain fatty aldehydes are probably made use of greatly throughout the animal kingdom for social communication. No speculate they are typically made use of in the colognes and perfumes we humans fork out by way of the nose for. 

—Jason G. Goldman

 [The earlier mentioned textual content is a transcript of this podcast.]