What do you mean he's my brother?

Research on the subject suggests that somewhere, somehow our squirmy reaction to incest can be expressed genetically. Because of natural selection and all that blah blah, it's thought that there exists a biomechanism that triggers incest avoidance in humans. Well, it looks like some very bold scientists have found a solid starting point for furthur research: lemur hoo-ha's.


Christine Drea, Marylene Boulet, and Marie Charpentier from Duke University carefully obtained genital gland secretions from 17 sexually mature female ring-tailed lemurs.
Side note: most species of lemurs live in completely female dominated societies. The only other mammal to consistently do the same is the hyena.


Those samples were compared to previously gathered samples from 19 males. Turns out they found the first molecular evidence of relatedness markers in the gland secretions. The scents of the lemur hoo-ha's were more similar the more closely related they were, thus providing a biomechanism to tell the lemurs who to wink at, and who not to.
The whole article can be found on the BMC website.

And I thought it was my brother's bathing and eating habits.

More like this

can't wait to see this research ridiculed by Repukelicans at budget time

Just for accuracy, off the top of my head one other matriarchal mammal society is that of orca whales, though maybe you meant something different.

other matriarchal societies. Naked mole rats? Elephants? Leadbeaters possum? Other toothed whales? Am I right in thinking then certain tribes of people may also be matriarchal?

By Robert Jaques (not verified) on 11 Dec 2009 #permalink

But I said " consistently female dominated" not just "matriarchal."
And let the debate begin... NOW.

And just what the fuck is a "hoo-ha"? Regional juvenile euphemisms are ambiguous to adults from elsewhere.

By BlindRobin (not verified) on 13 Dec 2009 #permalink

Female-dominated you say? That's interesting - because both lemurs and spotted hyenas share another feature - giant clitorises almost indistinguishable from penises.

I've been taught by resonable Cetacean researchers that orchas are indeed, "matriachal."

Now, what that means may well be up for debate. Both orchas and elephants rely on an elder female for long-term memory for areas of resources (food/water... etc).

One could argue what it means to be matriachal verses patriarchal? Male lions may dictate the survival of offspring but the females controle all other resourses. I have yet to see a really good paper that questions what "archy" really means.

I'm just sayin' ;) As for incest under either system... meh, alas, it happens. :D Natural systems generally select against it.

By arachnophile (not verified) on 23 Dec 2009 #permalink

Rad, another species I can anthropomorphically "believe" shares my gender politics!

If you have to get to the point where you are smelling the other one's genitals before you can decide whether you can sex with them or not . . .