Skip to content

Female Ethiopian gelada monkey suppresses development to avoid sex with father

Gelada monkey

Female gelada monkeys of Ethiopian rapidly mature in the presence of an incoming breeding male. While the biological father of the gelada monkey is present in the life of a female offspring she suppresses her maturation but on the arrival of a new breeding male, she rapidly matures. The conclusion is that the female monkeys are controlling the development of their maturity to avoid inbreeding with their biological fathers.

Gelada monkey

Gelada monkey. Photo: San Diego Zoo.

The researchers discovered this by measuring the levels of oestrogen in the feces of the females concerned. Also they develop “sexual swellings” on their chests and necks. They found that oestrogen levels surged in immature females of all ages just after a new male took over the group. This surge in oestrogen even occurred in females who were too young to mature.

The females are avoiding sex with their fathers to prevent inbreeding. They wait for an incoming male to oust their father and then are prepared to mate with him to create more healthy offspring. That is my interpretation of the study which has been published in Current Biology.

The geladas monkey is a relative of baboons. It had been known for a while that females of the species hurry up their maturation when a male enters the scene. The study confirms what is going on. The study was conducted by scientists at Michigan University. The research covered 80 monkeys over 14 years.

The information may help us understand humans. The scientists suggest that such a process may even exist in humans.

Some more on primates

Chimps use crushed insects to treat wounds

Chimpanzees treat cuts with the haemolymph inside insects

NEWS AND COMMENT: Researchers have discovered that chimpanzees in Gabon, Africa, treat each other with the fluid inside an unknown ...
Read More
Chimp cracking open nuts using 2 stones

Chimpanzees have the social skills to benefit from cumulative culture

What is cumulative culture? The best ways to describe it is to refer to the way that chimpanzees from Bossou, ...
Read More
Adie and Chita

Woman has love affair with zoo chimp and is banned

NEWS AND COMMENT-ANTWERP, BELGIUM: This is a story which turns on the question as to whether a human can have ...
Read More
Extraordinary photograph of a female ape, Ndakasi, dying embracing her human caregiver Andre Bauma

Extraordinary photograph of dying female mountain gorilla in the arms of her human caregiver

This is Ndakasi with her caretaker and lifelong friend Andre Bauma, a park ranger who cared for her. I don't ...
Read More
Baboon carrying long dead infant

Grieving apes carry their dead infants

The picture on this page shows a baboon carrying her long dead infant. It is unsettling but it is also ...
Read More
Chimpanzee with grass ear decoration

Do non-human animals have culture?

Unquestionably, non-human animals do, indeed, have culture. It is another example of an erosion of the concept of human exceptionalism ...
Read More