Baboons Like to Watch
From “The Week” for June 8, 2007:
A watchful baboon.
(Photo CC: James E. Robinson, III)
Male baboons may be the biggest voyeurs of the animal kingdom–they love to listen in on other baboons copulating. Researchers at a game reserve in Botswana found that low-status single males in a community of baboons often skulk around the love nests of higher-ranked males and their female consorts. While a female is in heat, she will often pair off with a high-status male and engage in sex multiple times during the day. The female’s love cries–long, song-like calls–draw a crowd of male baboons. If the couple fights, or if the male leaves her for even a minute, the other baboons will step in for a chance at a hookup. Researchers tested their theory by playing female sex calls over a loudspeaker. Male baboons from miles away literally dropped what they were doing to home in on the noise. “For male baboons, copulation calls are the most interesting vocalizations,” study author Catharine Crockford tells Discovery News. “From the calls, they hear about who is doing what with whom.”
Man, where to start?
- This piece is beautifully written.
- “While a female is in heat, she will often pair off with a high-status male and engage in sex multiple times during the day.” (My idea of a good Saturday.)
- And, “the female’s love cries–long, song-like calls” . . . amen!
- I have found that a noisy sex partner can be very gratifying . . . unless you have company over.
- Even so, roommates and neighbors may be fascinated and gratified by your aural emanations.
- “Low-status single males . . . often skulk around the love nests of higher-ranked males . . . If the couple fights, or if the male leaves her for even a minute, the other baboons will step in for a chance at a hookup.” Ahem. Yup. I have noticed this within my own species . . .
- . . . it occurs to me that this may explain why high-status males might feel especially threatened around upstarts.
- If baboons truly are the biggest voyeurs in the animal kingdom, then multimedia technology, electronic commerce, and overall economic prosperity could be boosted if we got them Internet access and some disposable income.
- “For [males], copulation calls are the most interesting vocalizations.” Yeah, dudes are reputed to be poor listeners at other times.
- “From the [long, song-like calls], they hear about who is doing what with whom.” . . . and this is why opera can be enjoyed in a foreign language.