University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Biological Anthropology Seminar Series > The Evolution of Exaggerated Sexual Swellings in Female Non-Human Primates

The Evolution of Exaggerated Sexual Swellings in Female Non-Human Primates

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In around 30 species of monkeys and apes, females exhibit exaggerated swellings of the ano-genital region that change in size and colouration across the ovarian cycle. These exaggerated swellings have been described as female ornaments that function to attract mating partners. However, whether exaggerated swellings provide reliable signals of ovulation or other aspects of female condition has been debated, as the empirical evidence has been highly contradictory. This talk will present novel findings from meta-analyses on the relationships between swelling characteristics, fertility and other female traits, and will evaluate different hypotheses regarding the evolutionary history of exaggerated swellings. The growing evidence that females, as well as males, exhibit elaborate ornaments across a range of taxonomic groups has broader implications for sexual selection theory.

This talk is part of the Biological Anthropology Seminar Series series.

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