How do female lemurs get so tough?
Female ring-tailed lemurs may get "masculinized" by well-timed little rises in prenatal prenatal /pre·na·tal/ (-na´tal) preceding birth.
Preceding birth. Also called antenatal.
preceding birth. hormones, says Christine Drea.
A researcher at Duke University in Durham, N.C., Drea has studied female spotted hyenas, which display a suite of traits typically described as masculine. Female hyenas dominate the species' rough-and-tumble social life and even grow penislike genitalia genitalia /gen·i·ta·lia/ (jen?i-tal´e-ah) [L.] the reproductive organs.
ambiguous genitalia . Analyses of the animals' hormones have linked these traits to a system influenced by prenatal exposure in females to extra androgens Androgens
Male sex hormones produced by the adrenal glands and testes, the male sex glands.
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, which are usually masculinizing hormones.
Now, Drea has turned her attention to the Strepsirrhini suborder suborder /sub·or·der/ (sub´or-der) a taxonomic category between an order and a family.
A taxonomic category ranking between an order and a family. of primates, which includes lemurs and their relatives. Females of many of these species likewise dominate social groups and develop enlarged genitalia that look male.
She monitored mothers' blood concentrations of hormones throughout more than a dozen pregnancies among ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta). The lemur moms' androgen androgen (ăn`drəjən): see testosterone.
Any of a group of hormones that mainly influence the development of the male reproductive system. concentrations were higher overall when they were carrying male fetuses. Yet, as they do in hyenas, the pregnant lemurs' androgens surged during critical periods when the female fetuses were developing their sex organs. That pattern isn't typical of mammals without dominant females.