Thursday 26 September 2019

Male common marmosets smell female fertility

SEPTEMBER 24, 2019
Scientists from the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology found that male common marmosets are able to detect the fertile phase of females based on changes in their body odor. Using a combination of chemical analyses and a behavioral test they found that female common marmosets release various substances that produce a specific smell during their fertile phase and that males can perceive these olfactory changes.
To study the importance of olfactory changes for the social life of common marmosets the scientists collected odor samples from the anogenital region of female common marmosets at multiple points in time over the menstrual cycle. One part of these samples was used for chemical analyses using gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry to examine the composition of odor profiles. A comparison of odor profiles between different cycle phases revealed substances that changed in intensity during or after ovulation. "Males may use those substances to detect onset and end of the fertile phase of females," says Marlen Kücklich, lead author of the study, from the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Therefore, in a second part of the study, odor samples were presented to males to observe their interest in these odors. Males generally showed considerably more interest in odors from females during ovulation than in samples of females in nonfertile phases.

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