It's official: Opposites attract

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Washington, Nov 25 (ANI): Mandrills monkeys, a species closely related to humans, sniff out potential mates with different genetic makeup in order to have healthy and strong offspring, according to a new study.

The researchers found that female mandrills are more likely to reproduce with males whose genes are complementary, possibly because they 'smell out' suitable candidates.

It is believed that monkeys know their own body smell, which is partly determined by their genes.

They will sniff out the males whose body odour is different giving an indication that their genetic make up is likely to be unlike theirs.

The international research team also believes that female mandrills may 'choose' their mates through selective fertilisation.

This is where the female mates with a number of males but her body rejects sperm from males with a similar genetic makeup and 'picks' those with genes which complement the female's own.

"This is an important advance in our knowledge of how mate selection works in monkeys. We now need to dig deeper and establish how they do this. I think smell is a strong candidate here," said lead author, Dr Jo Setchell from Durham University's Anthropology Department.

"Mandrills have a scent-gland on their chest, which males rub vigorously against trees. That would be a good way to advertise their presence to females, who could then use the smell signals to determine whether the male was a suitable mate.

"We don't know anything about what's in mandrill scent-marks yet, but we're working on it.

"Mandrills have a scent-gland on their chest, which males rub vigorously against trees. That would be a good way to advertise their presence to females, who could then use the smell signals to determine whether the male was a suitable mate. We don't know anything about what's in mandrill scent-marks yet, but we're working on it.

"Alternatively, it could well be that the female has a sophisticated way of somehow rejecting and accepting fertilisation depending on the genetic makeup of the sperm. This might help to explain why female primates go out of their way to mate with as many males as possible," Setchell added.

The study results are reported in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. (ANI)

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