Abstract # 2080 Poster # 92:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 8 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation

True colors: the relationship between age and sexual skin color in Macaca mulatta$

J. Danzy
New Mexico State University, Department of Sociology-Anthropology, MSC 3BV, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88001, USA
     In the past few years more attention has been paid to the potential socio-sexual function of colored sexual skin in primates. Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) display individual color differences in the face and genitals. Preliminary data suggesting a relationship between affiliative behavior and facial color in females (Gerald et al., 2005) led me to evaluate the correlation between age and female facial and genital coloration. Here, I report preliminary data from 10 free-ranging adult female rhesus on Cayo Santiago, linking age with sexual skin color. Data were collected between July and August 2005. Facial (n=45) and genital (n=45) photographs were taken opportunistically for each subject, no more than one sample per day, and measured using the RGB (red, green, blue) method (Gerald et al., 2001). Data revealed that average facial color values were negatively correlated with age (r: p=0.019, g: p=0.009, b: p=0.025). However, average genital color values were not significantly correlated with age (rgb: p>.05). The range of variation between maximum and minimum values of facial or genital color was not significantly linked to age, (rgb: p>0.05). Age does not appear to enhance or limit facial or genital color range. The relationship between average facial color and age, and the lack of relationship between genital color and age provides preliminary data to support the hypothesis that facial and genital colors serve different socio-sexual functions.