Female Capuchins Throw Stones to get Male Attention

Female capuchins engage in “flirting” behaviors (proceptive behaviors) around around estrus (proceptivity). Typically these include making eye contact with a male, specific  facial expressions (I’ve read utt described as “duck face” but the expressions I’ve seen most frequently I would describe as “creepy smiles”), twirling, run back and forth, and then turning to make eye contact again, and a rather shrill vocalization. Sometimes in that process, they quickly touch or grab the male, and then and run a slight distance away, and continue this repertoire. I like to call this the capuchin flirtation dance.

Primatologists (Falotico and Ottoni) studying tufted capuchins in Brazil observed some new flirtation behaviors: female throwing stones to get male attention. They hypothesize that this behavior may be spread by social learning.

Here is the link to the original paper:

Falótico T, Ottoni EB (2013) Stone Throwing as a Sexual Display in Wild Female Bearded Capuchin Monkeys, Sapajus libidinosus. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79535. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079535



About Dr. Michelle A. Rodrigues

I am a primatologist/biological anthropologist who studies comparative social behavior and endocrinology. My dissertation research focused on stress and friendship in female spider monkeys. Most of my graduate research was conducted at El Zota Biological Field Station, with a little help from the spider monkeys at Brookfield Zoo, IL. I have also studied howler monkeys, rhesus monkeys, bonobos, and chimpanzees, as well as participated in studies on gorillas, pachyderms, and big cats. Currently, I am a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, where I am examining how female friendship and social support mediate stressors experienced by teenager girls and female scientists. I've taught courses in introductory biological anthropology, world prehistory, and co-instructed a field course in primate behavior and conservation at El Zota. I love teaching about primates and evolution!
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