Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZurichSwitzerland

Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZurichSwitzerland

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Marty P.R.,Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZurichSwitzerland | van Noordwijk M.A.,Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZurichSwitzerland | Heistermann M.,Endocrinology LaboratoryGerman Primate CentreGottingenGermany | Willems E.P.,Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZurichSwitzerland | And 3 more authors.
American Journal of Primatology | Year: 2015

Among primates, orangutans are unique in having pronounced male bimaturism leading to two fully adult morphs that differ in both physical appearance and behavior. While unflanged males have a female-like appearance, flanged males have the full suite of secondary sexual characteristics, including cheek flanges and a large throat sac. So far, hormonal correlates of arrested development in unflanged males and the expression of secondary sexual characteristics in flanged males have only been studied in zoo-housed individuals. In this study, we investigated fecal androgen and glucocorticoid metabolites as hormonal correlates of male bimaturism in 17 wild adult Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. We predicted and found higher androgen levels in flanged males compared to unflanged males, probably due to ongoing strong competition among flanged males who meet too infrequently to establish a clear linear dominance hierarchy. Furthermore, we found no difference in fecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations between flanged and unflanged males, indicating that social stress is unlikely to explain arrested development in unflanged wild orangutans. The only actively developing male in our study showed significantly higher androgen levels during the period of development than later as a fully flanged male. This supports earlier findings from zoo studies that elevated androgen levels are associated with the development of secondary sexual characteristics. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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