Female Bearded Capuchin Monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) Use Objects to Solicit the Sexual Partner

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Abstract

Female wild bearded capuchins (Sapajus libidinosus) living at Serra da Capivara National Park (SCNP) that use stone and stick tools during foraging occasionally toss or throw stones at the male during courtship. We report similar behaviors in a different population that uses stones as tools in foraging. We video-recorded the sexual behavior of four females (27 days during nine proceptive periods) belonging to a group of wild capuchins living in Fazenda Boa Vista (FBV), 320 km from SCNP. Three females used stones or branches when they solicited the alpha male (79 episodes). The female that did not use objects was the sole female to solicit a subordinate male. The vast majority of episodes (95%) involved pushing or dropping branches, both loose and attached to the tree, toward the male. Females used objects only during the one-way courtship phase, before the male reciprocated the female’s solicitations. In 93% of the episodes in which a female used objects, she performed affiliative behaviors immediately before or after using the objects. We conclude that throwing or pounding stones and pushing or dropping branches by females in SCNP and FBV in the sexual context have a clear affiliative meaning (to attract the male’s attention). Given the tool-using status of both populations where these behaviors have been reported, it is important to determine whether they appear in populations that do not use tools, or are restricted to populations already primed to use objects in other contexts.

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