Female orangs snatch food from males to test potential mates

April 3rd, 2009 - 2:19 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic Washington, April 3 (ANI): A new study has revealed that female orang-utans test potential mates by snatching food from the males, which enables them to find out whether they would react violently or tolerate the stealing.

Maria van Noordwijk, who authored the study at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, revealed that the females would scream and tended to end the interactions when the males reacted violently or took the food back.

The researcher said that the behaviour seems to be significant evolutionarily, as relationships with aggressive males can be extremely damaging for females.

In the study paper, van Noordwijk writes that males who are aggressive to other males may attract females.

However, when a male is aggressive to a female, he limits her ability to choose when and with whom she mates, as she faces attacks if she does not do as the male wishes, writes the lead author.

“She could endure injuries, from bruises to broken bones, if his attacks were to knock her out of a tree,” National Geographic News quoted van Noordwijk as saying.

The researchers admit that they did not see the females giving immediate sexual favours in return for the males tolerating the food stealing.

However, van Noordwijk said: “We think the stealing allows females to test males for their tendency to be aggressive toward them so they can determine whether they are worth further associating with.”

A research article on this study has been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. (ANI)

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