This would be a novel and probably mostly unsuccessful approach, but the “stinky flirt”, or spraying a "foul" odor, seems to work for the ring-tailed lemur when it comes to attracting a mate. However, the first in-depth study of the creatures' behavior also established that it can lead to the dissolution of friendships between males. “Smelly flirtation displays are more often made by dominant males “, said Amber Walker-Bolton, lead author of the study and a member of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.
This behavior is also very costly because these males face higher levels of aggression than if they were doing other types of scent marking. Ring-tailed lemurs are social animals and live in large, female-dominated groups. Like other types of lemurs, primates maintain social bonds with often excluded lower-ranking companions.
Scent is important to ring-tailed lemurs, and males use their scent glands to mark territory and engage in rituals. “stink fights” – where they rub their tail in their scent before waving it at an opponent.
Most “stinky flirt” is less well understood.
“One morning I was watching a caucus and saw a man from outside come up and try to carry a woman's cock”, said Ms Walker-Bolton, who did her research at the Berenty reserve in Madagascar. “Right away, he was faced with all this aggression from the group, and it made me wonder why they went through this just to be greeted with a negative result. “Although dominant males – inside and outside the group – most often indulge in stinky flirting, foreign males perform the ritual at a higher rate. But, as a result, they also face much higher rates of aggression from women and other men. “It could be a way for them to show their rank or just an alternative mating strategy in terms of transferring to a new group to get mating opportunities. “, said Walker-Bolton, whose research is published in the American Journal of Primatology. “One thing is for sure, there is a lot of aggression towards them, and it's an expensive thing to do since it can end in such a horrible fight.” It is difficult to measure the success of “stinky flirt” when it comes to actual mating, but Ms Walker-Bolton said it was common for a female lemur to whip herself and punch an opposing male in the face.
She was also able to measure how often the females showed up, showing how receptive they were to the exhibits. “Females don't show up every time, and they don't show up to every male, but interestingly, males that participated in more stinky flirting displays were shown more often, she says.
Translated by Lydia Smith ® Independent du 18/11/17

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