Alternative Strategies to Sex: A look into orangutan behavior

orangutan

In a recent article (restricted access) in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the authors report a unique reproductive tactic in Sumatran orangutans: delayed reproductive maturity. This phenomenon is not new to science, but it is new to these primates. Basically, male orangutans with secondary sexual characteristics have to fight with each other to gain access to females. But in this population of orangutans, one male can dominate several females for up to a few weeks. In this type of structure, young males that delay their maturity have a better chance at deposing and taking over the harem than males that do not delay maturity. Alternative mating tactics are one of my favorite topics in evolution & behavior, so this is a really cool finding! Here are two links to articles reviewing this paper: one at io9.com and one at New Scientist

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2 thoughts on “Alternative Strategies to Sex: A look into orangutan behavior

    • It means that they don’t gain their secondary sex characteristics until later in life. Basically they just delay when puberty hits. It would be analagous to a human not going through puberty until they were ~20 years old or so.

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