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On December 11, scientists at the University of Lethbridge in Canada published a paper revealing what appear to be sex acts between young female Japanese macaques and sika deer. The wild monkeys were observed mounting the deer in Minoo, central Japan. Similar monkey-deer interactions on Yakushima Island were reported in January But while the research is based on anecdotal evidence, the current work focuses on the s. According to the team, which also consists of researchers Paul Vasey and Jean-Baptiste Leca , this paper is the first quantitative study of sexual interactions between a non-human primate and a non-primate species.
Wild Japanese macaques have long been known to ride sika deer. The monkeys will sometimes groom their four-legged mounts, while the deer get to eat any fruits the macaques drop and occasionally make meals of the monkeys' feces. See a weasel flying on a woodpecker, a seal surfing on a whale, and other animals riding animals. The latest study looked at mating season interactions from videos of the behavior and hormone testing from fecal samples. The researchers compared monkey-deer interactions to homosexual contact observed between female macaques in the past.
Based on instances of mounting, thrusting, and vocalizations, the team concludes that these relations were, in fact, sexual. In some cases, the macaques also bit the deer or pulled on their antlers. If you're wondering, there is video. The researchers observed 14 different monkey-deer pairings. In five cases, female monkeys mounted the same quadruped partner three or more times in a minute period and made the same calls heard when monkeys mate with each other.
In other cases, female macaques interrupted sex acts started between other monkeys and deer. Gunst says the interactions occurred about once every day and lasted from a few minutes to about two hours. For the most part, the deer didn't seem to care. Some of the deer shook the monkeys off their backs, but others stood passively while the monkeys thrusted. In some cases, the deer just kept on eating. Interspecies sex is not unheard of; 10 percent of animal species are known to hybridize. But this practice is more common in animals that are anatomically similar. Since monkeys and deer are so physically different, it's highly unlikely the macaques confused the deer with a potential primate mate.
The researchers say there are a couple reasons why the monkeys might be pursuing the deer. For one, this could be a way for young macaques to practice sex. Or, it could be a sexual alternative for young females. Small female monkeys are sometimes rejected by potential sexual partners, and intercourse with their larger male counterparts can be dangerous. Performing on the deer may be a more attractive option for the monkeys.
It's unclear, however, how long this specific type of behavior has been happening in Minoo. The unlikely pairings could be a peculiarity that only recently started. A version of this story misstated where the new study took place. The story has been updated.
All rights reserved. There's some unusual monkey business happening on an island in Japan. Deer Mates Wild Japanese macaques have long been known to ride sika deer. Monkey Motivation Interspecies sex is not unheard of; 10 percent of animal species are known to hybridize. Share Tweet . Read This Next 'World's oldest' coin factory discovered in China. Science Coronavirus Coverage Why people who already had COVID should get vaccinated Vaccines boost natural immune responses and have an amazing track record of preventing serious illness and death.
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