Ring-tailed lemurs possess the most complex scent marking behavior of primates and use scent for territorial defense, mate evaluation, and intrasexual competition.
Lemurs possess arguably the most complex scent marking behavior of all primates. Ring-tailed lemurs use scent in a variety of social contexts, including territorial defense, mate evaluation, and intrasexual competition.
Male ring-tailed lemurs have darkly colored scent glands on the inside of their wrists with a spur-like fingernail, usually referred to as a horny spur, overlay on each. Males also have scent glands on their chests, just above the collarbone and close to the armpit. Both male and female ring-tailed lemurs have anogenital scent glands.
Senders of scent signals cannot control who receives them, similar to a bulletin board. As such, lemurs transmit signals without a particular intended recipient. Individuals may therefore obtain an advantage in “advertising” their scent by choosing particular plant species or substrates that improve a mark’s attractiveness or stability.
Sources: (Cawthon Lang, 2005; Groves, 2001; Jolly, 1966; Kappeler, 1998; Mertl-Millhollen, 1988, 2006; Mittermeier, et al., 2010; Palagi, Telara, & Borgognini Tarli, 2004; Rowe, 1996; Schilling, 1974; Tinsman, Hagelin, & Jolly, 2017)
Image: Mathias Appel