, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 283-300

Adolescent exaggeration in female catarrhine primates

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Adolescent females of 11 primate species display exaggerated versions of the cues to sexual cycle state or fertility which are displayed by adult females: anubis baboons; geladas; Assamese, Barbary, crab-eating, Japanese, and stump-tailed macaques; patas monkeys; gorillas; and humans. These cases are briefly described and a variety of hypotheses is presented and evaluated to account for the adolescent exaggeration. Such exaggeration may be a super-normal sexual stimulus, a barrier to cross-species hybridization, a helpful prop in female:female competition, a passport for transfers, an insurance policy where unpredictable changes of circumstance are likely, or a non-adaptive side-effect of some other phenomenon. The transfer and unpredictability hypotheses seem to apply to the largest number of species, including humans.