Scent-marking in the tamarin, Saguinus oedipus: Sex differences and ontogeny

Jeffrey A. French, Jayne Cleveland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Many mammalian species which exhibit scent-marking behaviour show a pronounced sexual dimorphism in marking behaviour and scent gland morphology. However, several species of marmosets and tamarins do not show dimorphism in these traits. We examined sex differences in scent-marking structures and behaviour in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus o. oedipus; Primates: Callitrichidae). While body size and weight were virtually identical in adult males and females, there were pronounced sex differences in scent gland size and in rates of marking behaviour. Females possessed larger anogenital and suprapubic glands and showed 10-fold higher rates of anogenital marking and slightly higher rates of suprapubic marking than males. Observations on the development of anogenital marking revealed a lack of dimorphism during the first 2 years. Adult rates of anogenital marking in females were only observed in females housed separately from their natal family group. The onset of adult levels of marking behaviour corresponds with the adoption of the role of a breeding adult female, suggesting that anogenital marking plays a role in sexual communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-618,IN5,619-623
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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