Macaque tries to mate with deer: the second recorded case of interspecific attraction

Apparently, the case of the cat and the penguin was not unique. French scientists filmed and described the attempts of a male Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata yakui) with a female sika deer (Cervus nippon yakushimae). Lead author of the study, Marie Pelé from the University of Strasbourg, noted that the behavior of the macaque was significantly different from the behavior of the cat: they never reached sexual intercourse, but the monkey defended the deer, as in normal circumstances it would protect a female of its own species.

Japanese macaques are known for their love of hot springs, where they often spend the cold season. Usually they live side by side with sika deer. Deers pick fruits that macaques drop from trees. Sometimes primates play with deer and brush their hair.

For the first time, one of the authors of the report, zoologist Alexander Bonnefoy, was able to observe the unusual attitude of macaque to the deer in November 2015. He filmed macaques on the island of Yakushima at the height of the mating season. One healthy adult male tried several times to climb the backs of two different female deer.

“This macaque was low in the hierarchy in its group - not at all on the periphery, or it belonged to the group of not the most popular males, ” the zoologists explain. Climbing a female deer, he managed to perform several frictions and ejaculated. Anatomical differences prevented penetration, and the deer, who very calmly accepted what was happening, simply brushed the seminal fluid from her back wool with her tongue after the monkey had left. The second deer turned out to be more aggressive and drove the macaque away.

Later, scientists observed how the same male macaque drives other monkeys away from deer. He never showed aggression against those deer with which he tried to mate, the authors of the report note.

Scientists believe that the blame for everything is the hormonal surge that macaques experience during the mating season, and good neighborly relations between the two species. Perhaps a game common among macaques and deer turned into an attempt at intercourse during this busy season, in which monkeys simply ride on the backs of their hoofed neighbors.

The results of the study are published in the journal Primates .

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