2 minute read

Courtship

Courtship In Mammals

Mammals use various strategies in courtship. Pheromones act as sexual lures that bring members of the opposite sex together. These attractants are so powerful that a male dog can smell a female in estrus more than half a mile (1 km) away. The fact that at puberty humans begin to produce odorous sweat suggests the role of pheromones in primate courtship. Sex selection also exists in primates. Females usually choose their male partners, but sometimes the reverse occurs. Recent research reveals that male lion-tailed macaques remain aloof during the day. At night, however, they seek out sleeping estrous females for mating. Until this study, biologists thought that it was the females who initiated mating. In humans, various cultures determine the customs of courtship. For example, in some societies, marriages are arranged by relatives. In these cases, a woman is matched to a man with the appropriate resources. Just as other female animals select mates with resources, humans tend to select mates with wealth and status. Further, even if a woman has no say in the selection of her husband, she will help arrange the marriage of her offspring. This merely delays female mate choice by a generation.

Resources

Books

Batten, Mary. Sexual Strategies. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992.

Chinery, Michael. Partners and Parents. Crabtree Publishing, 2000.

Otte, Jean Pierre. Marjolijn De Jager, trans. The Courtship of Sea Creatures. New York: George Braziller, 2001.


Periodicals

Davies, Nicholas B. "Backyard Battle of the Sexes." Natural History (April 1995).

Dennis, Jerry. "Mates for Life." Wildlife Conservation (May-June 1993).

Fernald, Russell D. "Cichlids in Love." Sciences (July-August 1993).

Hancock, Leah. "Whose Funny Valentine?" Natural Wildlife (February-March 1995).

Jackson, Robert. "Arachnomania." Natural History (March 1995).

Robert, Daniel, and Ronald R. Hoy. "Overhearing Cricket Love Songs." Natural History (June 1994).

Wilson, J. F., et al. "Genetic Evidence for Different Male and Female Roles During Cultural Transitions in the British Isles." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98 (2001): 5078-5083.


Other

Films for the Humanities and Sciences. Mating Signals. Princeton, 1994-5.

Films for the Humanities and Sciences. The Rituals of Courtship. Princeton, 1994-5.


Bernice Essenfeld

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Display

—Showy exhibition by an animal that reveals information to others.

Lek

—Communal area used by birds and insects for courtship and mate selection.

Pheromone

—Chemical odorant that provides communication between animals.

Ritual

—Species-specific behavior pattern or ceremony used for communication between animals.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Cosine to Cyano groupCourtship - Courtship In Insects, Courtship In Fish, Courtship In Birds, Courtship In Mammals