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eighth + ninth speakers

This evening's guest lecture was courtesy of Dr. Toni Ziegler from the National Primate Research Center and Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her presentation was called, "She Can Lead Him Around By The Nose: The neuroendocrine responsiveness of male cooperative breeding monkeys to female scent signals" and focused on the hormone analysis of males in different social settings within populations of Cotton-Top Tamarins and Common Marmosets at their laboratory. Testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol were all easily recognizable, but after the lecture was over a group of students from the Anthropology Club gathered together and none of us could remember hearing about LH prior to this evening. However, we all agreed that there was a good chance it was an abbreviation for something so basic that we'd feel extremely dumb asking about in public, so we all kept quiet during the question and answer period following the lecture. It turns out that LH is, in fact, Luteinizing Hormone, although it took a search on the internet to find that information.

From the research gathered by Dr. Ziegler it looks like male tamarins and marmosets are very responsive to female scent marking and go through a period of 'sympathetic pregnancy' at the same time as their mates - bulking up their fat stores to ensure they'll have the ability and energy to spend on rearing the infants once they're born. Both species give birth to twins, and the males also play a very active role in helping care for offspring - often carrying two, three, or even four children at once to afford the female some time on her own. However, this is only in response to females in which a pair-bond has been formed. If a different female comes by and places a scent marking in range of the male he's likely to ignore it if his partner is also present, although whether this is due to genetics or a cultural adaptation wasn't a focus in their research.

Earlier in the day my biological anthropology instructor had invited a fellow grad student to speak on bonobo behavior in class, which led to a discussion of the many ways Pan paniscus uses sex in daily life. One of the more titillating facts is that they use sex as a form of conflict avoidance and reconciliation - so that instead of fighting (like their relatives the chimpanzees) they will instead engage in tongue kissing, genital rubbing, or oral sex with members of either sex. In the world of bonobos you don't just shake hands to seal a deal, which has intrigued primatologists for decades.

While out in the hallway waiting for another class to finish before the start of my own Violet came over to say hello. We talked about our weekends and Violet seemed a little surprised that I hadn't done anything with Wendy until she realized that she wasn't the only one to leave town for the short holiday. Since Violet has made comments in the past about always missing anthropology events due to work I decided to ask if she was interested in attending Dr. Ziegler's presentation that afternoon - since it was before the start of her shift - and she said that sounded like a great idea. We spent ten minutes talking and, as it was time for my class to start, Violet pointed out the time and said she was going home to get some extra sleep. I asked about whether I should call and remind her about the lecture or if it was better to "trust" Violet to remember the time and place and was told that it would be better for me to call - although Violet then joked about how notorious she is at not answering her phone. Perhaps it's no surprise then that I wound up leaving a message for her at three this afternoon. Silly girl.