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Evolutionary Constraints on the Nonreproductive Sexual Behavior of Wild Apes
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Code: DJ 1.2 (4) Muraskin
Price: $9.50
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Merry Ratliff Muraskin, PhD

Nonreproductive sexual behavior is defined here to include nonreproductive copulation, orgasmic same-sex interactions, and sex-derived signals. Each of these behaviors has been observed in wild apes. However, only the bonobo has evolved a relationship system that, to some degree, relies on nonreproductive sex. This paper argues that the lower frequency of nonreproductive sex in ape species other than the bonobo is at least partly the result of evolutionary constraints on the orgasmic same-sex behavior and nonreproductive copulations of males combined with fewer opportunities for intense female/female/e interactions in populations of these other apes. For male apes, any advantage of nonreproductive copulation of orgasmic same-sex behavior must outweigh the advantage of reserving ejaculations for possible impregnation of fertile females. Male apes therefore engage in orgasmic same-sex behavior only when they have no access to fertile females and (except, perhaps, in the case of the bonobo) choose fertile rather than infertile females whenever possible. Even when orgasmic same sex behavior facilitates a male's participation in the relationship system of his particular group, it is most likely maladaptive. Ovulation of female primates is not linked to copulation or orgasm, and the nonreproductive copulation and orgasmic same-sex behaviors of female apes are therefore not as constrained as are those behaviors in males. Female same-sex orgasmic interactions can be adaptive as well as functional. Sex-derived signals, the other type of nonreproductive sexual behavior, are subject to the evolutionary constraints governing communication systems and are unaffected by differences in male and female physiology.

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