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Orangutans put off puberty to build up strength

Last Updated: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 11:50

Washington: Young male Sumatran orangutans delay their puberty until they are strong enough to challenge the dominant males and impress the opposite sex, a new study including an Indian origin researcher has revealed.

Male orangutans are ready for reproduction around the age of 15 but they also need to develop secondary sexual characteristics in order to attract a female.

One such characteristic that is required is their conspicuous cheek flanges.

However Sumatran orangutans often delay attaining them, sometimes for over 10 years.

This capability of delaying growing up is very typical of this specie as not even ‘Bornean’ orangutans can imitate it, New Scientist reported.

Gauri Pradhan of the University of South Florida in Tampa and colleagues found another difference between the two species.

Sumatran males can monopolise females for weeks together while Bornean males couldn’t.

To arrive at the result, Pradhan dexterously constructed mathematical models of orangutan populations collected through decades of field data.

She concluded that males who could delay maturity did better when a few males monopolized all the females.

It was found that these males slowly but surely built up physical strength until they were capable of overthrow the dominant males.


First Published: Monday, May 21, 2012 - 11:50
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