Nasalization by Nasalis larvatus: Larger noses audiovisually advertise conspecifics in proboscis monkeys

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Science Advances  21 Feb 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 2, eaaq0250
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0250

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Male proboscis monkeys have uniquely enlarged noses that are prominent adornments, which may have evolved through their sexually competitive harem group social system. Nevertheless, the ecological roles of the signals encoded by enlarged noses remain unclear. We found significant correlations among nose, body, and testis sizes and a clear link between nose size and number of harem females. Therefore, there is evidence supporting both male-male competition and female choice as causal factors in the evolution of enlarged male noses. We also observed that nasal enlargement systematically modifies the resonance properties of male vocalizations, which probably encode male quality. Our results indicate that the audiovisual contributions of enlarged male noses serve as advertisements to females in their mate selection. This is the first primate research to evaluate the evolutionary processes involved in linking morphology, acoustics, and socioecology with unique masculine characteristics.

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