International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 377–393 | Cite as

Baboon sexual swellings and male response: A possible operational mammalian supernormal stimulus and response interaction

  • C. Bielert
  • Connie M. Anderson


Experimental work using coagulated masturbatory seminal emissions from nine adult male chacma baboons (Papio ursinus)as a dependent variable revealed that males show a greater sexual arousal response to female conspecifics exhibiting exaggerated perineal swellings. The menstrual cycles of the “superswollen” females did not differ in length or patterning from the controls. Since additional experimental work, including behavioral observations on females with normal and supersized swellings, failed to reveal differences in female proceptivity, the male’s increased arousal response appears dependent upon the perineal size per se.The males’ responses suggest that the supersized swellings may be an example of an operational visual supernormal stimulus and response interaction.

Key words

baboon masturbation Papio ursinus perineal swelling seminal emission sexual arousal supernormal stimulus 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beach, F. A. (1942a). Analysis of the stimuli adequate to elicit mating behavior in the sexually inexperienced male rat.J. Comp. Psychol. 33: 163–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beach, F. A. (1942b). Analysis of the factors involved in the arousal, maintenance and manifestation of sexual excitement in male animals.Psychosom. Med. 4: 173–198.Google Scholar
  3. Beach, F. A. (1976). Sexual attractivity, proceptivity and receptivity in female mammals.Horm. Behav. 7: 105–138.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bielert, C. (1982). Experimental examinations of baboon (Papio ursinus) sex stimuli. In Snowdon, C.T., Brown, C.H., and Petersen, M.R. (ed.),Primate Communication, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 373–395.Google Scholar
  5. Bielert, C., and Girolami, L. (in press). Experimental assessments of behavioral and anatomical components of female chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) sexual attractiveness.Psychoneuroendocrinology.Google Scholar
  6. Bielert, C., and van der Walt, L. A. (1982). Male chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) sexual arousal: Mediation by visual cues from female conspecifics.Psychoneuroendocrinology 7: 31–48.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bielert, C., Howard-Tripp, M. E., and van der Walt, L. A. (1980). Environmental and social factors influencing seminal emission in chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Psychoneuroendocrinology 5: 287–303.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Czaja, J. A., Eisele, S. G., and Goy, R. W. (1975). Cyclical changes in the sexual skin of female rhesus: Relationships to mating behavior and successful artificial insemination.Fed. Proc. 34: 1680–1684.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Czaja, J. A., Robinson, J. A., Eisele, S. G., Scheffler, G., and Goy, R. W. (1977). Relationship between sexual skin colour of female rhesus monkeys and midcycle plasma levels of oestradiol and progesterone.J. Reprod. Fert. 49: 147–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Darwin, C. R. (1890).The Descent of Man and Sexual Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd ed., John Murray, London.Google Scholar
  11. Darwin, C. (1876). Sexual selection in relation to monkeys.Nature (Lond.) 15: 18–19.Google Scholar
  12. Dixson, A. F. (1983). Observations on the evolution and behavioral significance of “sexual skin” in female primates. In Rosenblatt, J.S., Hinde, R.A., Beer, C., and Busnel, M.-C. (ed.),Advances in the Study of Behavior, Vol. 13, Academic Press, New York, pp. 63–106.Google Scholar
  13. Gillman, J., and Gilbert, C. (1946). The reproductive cycle of the chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) with special reference to the problems of menstrual irregularities as assessed by the behaviour of the sex skin. 5.Afr. J. Med. Sci. Biol. Suppl. 11: 1–54.Google Scholar
  14. Grunt, J. A., and Young, W. C. (1953). Consistency of sexual behavior patterns in individual male guinea pigs following castration and androgen therapy.J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 46: 138–144.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hall, K. R. L. (1962). The sexual, agonistic and derived social behaviour patterns of the wild chacma baboon,Papio ursinus. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 139: 283–327.Google Scholar
  16. Hamilton, W. J. III, and Orians, G. H. (1965). Evolution of brood parasitism in altricial birds.Condor 67: 361–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hausfater, G. (1975).Dominance and Reproduction in Baboons (@#@ Papio cynocephalus):A Quantitative Analysis, Karger, Basel.Google Scholar
  18. Hendrickx, A. G., and Kraemer, D. C. (1971). Methods. In Hendrickx, A.G. (ed.),Embryoology of the Baboon, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 31–44.Google Scholar
  19. Howard-Tripp, M. E., and Bielert, C. (1978). Social contact influences on the menstrual cycle of the female chacma baboon (Papio ursinus). J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. 49: 191–192.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Kummer, H. (1968).Social Organization of Hamadryas Baboons: A Field Study, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  21. Lehner, P. N. (1979).Handbook of Ethological Methods, Garland STPM Press, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Magnus, D. (1958). Untersuchungen zur Bionomie und Ethologie des Kaisermantels. Z.Tierpsychol. 15: 398–426.Google Scholar
  23. OsmanHill, W.C. (1970).Primates: Comparative Anatomy and Taxonomy, Vol. 6. Cynopithecinae — Papio, Mandrillus, Theropithecus, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1970.Google Scholar
  24. Phoenix, C. H. (1973a). Sexual behavior in rhesus monkeys after vasectomy.Science 179: 493–494.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Phoenix, C. H. (1973b). Ejaculation by male rhesus as a function of the female partner.Horm. Behav. 4: 365–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Phoenix, C. H. (1977). Factors influencing sexual performance in male rhesus monkeys.J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 91: 697–710.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Phoenix, C. H. (1980). Copulation, dominance and plasma androgen levels in adult rhesus males born and reared in the laboratory.Arch. Sex. Behav. 9: 149–167.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Phoenix, C. H., and Alexander, N. J. (1979). Sexual behavior in long-term vasectomized male rhesus monkeys.Physiol. Behav. 22: 747–751.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Phoenix, C. H., and Jensen, J. J. (1973). Ejaculation by male rhesus in the absence of female partners.Horm. Behav. 4: 231–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Phoenix, C. H., Slob, A. K., and Goy, R. W. (1973). Effects of castration and replacement therapy on the sexual behavior of adult male rhesus.J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 84: 472–481.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pocock, R. I. (1925). The external characteristics of the catarrhine monkeys and apes.Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 97: 1479–1579.Google Scholar
  32. Ransom, T. W. (1981).Beach Troop of the Gombe, Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg, Pa.Google Scholar
  33. Redican, W. K. (1975). Facial expressions in nonhuman primates.Prim. Behav. Dev. Field Lab. Res. 4: 109–194.Google Scholar
  34. Resko, J. A., and Phoenix, C. H. (1972). Sexual behavior and testosterone concentrations in the plasma of the rhesus monkey before and after castration.Endocrinology 91: 499–503.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rowell, T. E. (1967). Female reproductive cycles and the behavior of baboons and rhesus macaques. In Altmann, S.A. (ed.),Social Communication Among Primates, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 15–32.Google Scholar
  36. Rowell, T. E. (1972). Female reproduction cycles and social behavior in primates. In Lehrman, D.S., Hinde, R.A., and Shaw, E. (ed.),Advances in the Study of Behavior, Vol. 4, Academic Press, New York, pp. 69–105.Google Scholar
  37. Saayman, G. S. (1970). The menstrual cycle and sexual behaviour in a troop of free-ranging chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Folia primatol. 12: 81–110.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Seyfarth, R. M. (1978). Social relationships among adult male and female baboons. I. Behaviour during sexual consortship.Behaviour 64: 204–226.Google Scholar
  39. Shaikh, A. A., Celaya, C. L., Gomez, I., and Shaikh, S. A. (1982). Temporal relationship of hormonal peaks to ovulation and sex skin deturgescence in the baboon.Primates 23: 444–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Siegel, S. (1956).Nonparametric Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  41. Tinbergen, N. (1948). Social releasers and the experimental method required for their study.Wilson Bull. 60: 6–52.Google Scholar
  42. Tinbergen, N. (1951).The Study of Instinct, Oxford University Press, London.Google Scholar
  43. Tinbergen, N., and Perdeck, A. C. (1950). On the stimulus situations releasing the begging response in the newly hatched herring gull (Larus argentatus Pont.).Behaviour 3: 1.39.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Bielert
    • 1
  • Connie M. Anderson
    • 2
  1. 1.Primate Behaviour Research Group, School of PsychologyUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy, Medical SchoolUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations