Development of sexual and socio-sexual behaviours in free-ranging juvenile male Japanese macaques, Macaca fuscata

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, D851 University Hall, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB, Canada T1K 3M4

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The emergence of conceptive and non-conceptive sexual behaviours in mature individuals can be traced back to immature socio-sexual behavioural patterns. We tested the ‘needing-to-learn hypothesis’ in the development of sexual behaviours in the immature male Japanese macaques of Arashiyama, Japan. This hypothesis holds that juvenility serves to provide young individuals with a period in which to practice adult male-like sexual and socio-sexual behaviours and partner choice. Our cross-sectional focal data on mounting behaviour and partner choice in juvenile males (1–3 years) supported most of our predictions: (1) as they became older and learnt more effective patterns of sexual solicitations, juvenile males performed more demonstrative solicitations and less non-demonstrative solicitations, (2) the frequency of mounts performed by juvenile males increased with age and converged on a frequency of mounts typical of adult males, (3) the frequency of mounts reflecting underachievement (i.e., improperly oriented mounts and single/no foot-clasp mounts) decreased as juvenile males became older, (4) the double foot-clasp mounting posture became gradually more common in juvenile males over time, while other mounting postures became less common and (5) from two to three years old, the frequency of males’ sexual mounts directed to adult females increased. Such timelines of gradual increase in the frequency of effective adult-like behavioural patterns and gradual decrease in the frequency of less effective immature behavioural patterns are consistent with the ‘needing-to-learn hypothesis’ emphasizing the role of age and practice in the progressive acquisition of adult-like sexual behaviour, mounting skills, and partner age choice during male juvenility.

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