Leca, Jean-Baptiste

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    Do monkeys use sex toys? Evidence of stone tool-assisted masturbation in free-ranging long-tailed macaques
    (Wiley, 2022) Cenni, Camilla; Christie, Jessica B. A.; Van der Pant, Yanni; Gunst, Noëlle; Vasey, Paul L.; Wandia, Nengah; Leca, Jean-Baptiste
    Recent reports on tool use in nonforaging contexts have led researchers to reconsider the proximate drivers of instrumental object manipulation. In this study, we explore the physiological and behavioral correlates of two stone-directed and seemingly playful actions, the repetitive tapping and rubbing of stones onto the genital and inguinal area, respectively, that may have been co-opted into self-directed tool-assisted masturbation in long-tailed macaques (i.e., “Sex Toy” hypothesis). We predicted that genital and inguinal stone-tapping and rubbing would be more closely temporally associated with physiological responses (e.g., estrus in females, penile erection in males) and behavior patterns (e.g., sexual mounts and other mating interactions) that are sexually motivated than other stone-directed play. We also predicted that the stones selected to perform genital and inguinal stone-tapping and rubbing actions would be less variable in number, size, and texture than the stones typically used during other stone-directed playful actions. Overall, our data partly supported the “Sex Toy” hypothesis indicating that stone-directed tapping and rubbing onto the genital and inguinal area are sexually motivated behaviors. Our research suggests that instrumental behaviors of questionably adaptive value may be maintained over evolutionary time through pleasurable/self-rewarding mechanisms, such as those underlying playful and sexual activities.
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    Sexual adaptation: is female-male mounting a supernormal courtship display in Japanese macaques?
    (Brill, 2022) Gunst, Noëlle; Leca, Jean-Baptiste; Vasey, Paul L.
    We analysed heterosexual consortships in a free-ranging group of Japanese macaques in which adult females routinely perform female-to-male mounting (FMM). We tested whether FMM is more efficient (i.e., a “supernormal courtship” behavioral pattern) than species-typical female-to-male sexual solicitations (FMSS) at prompting subsequent male-to-female mounts (MFM). In a context of high femalefemale competition for male mates, we found that (1) FMM functioned to focus the male consort partner’s attention as efficiently as FMSS and prevented him from moving away, and (2) FMM was more efficient than species-typical FMSS at expediting MFM (i.e., the most fitness-enhancing sexual behavior of a mating sequence). We concluded that FMM could be considered a supernormal courtship behavioral pattern in adult female Japanese macaques. This population-specific sexual adaptation may result from a combination of favorable socio-demographic conditions. This study has implications for the evolutionary history of non-conceptive mounting patterns in Japanese macaques and non-conceptive sexuality in humans.
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    Animal culture: how a birdsong went viral
    (Cell Press, 2020) Logue, David M.; Leca, Jean-Baptiste
    A new white-throated sparrow song has overtaken most of Canada in less than 20 years. The explanation for this remarkably fast spread may lie in the southern migratory grounds, where populations from across Canada converge each winter.
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    When males have females on their backs: male's tolerance, solicitation, and use of female-male mounting in Japanese macaques
    (Wiley, 2022) Gunst, Noëlle; Leca, Jean-Baptiste; Vasey, Paul L.
    Previous research on Japanese macaques has shown that female-to-male mounting (FMM) is performed by some females as an exaggerated form of sexual solicitation that may occur in the context of high female competition for male mates. This supernormal courtship behavior functions to prompt subsequent male-to-female mounting. In this report, we focused on the male consort partners’ responses to FMM. We studied a free-ranging population of Japanese macaques at Arashiyama, Japan, in which FMM is frequent and prevalent. We analyzed 240 consortships involving 31 females and 19 males. We tested three hypotheses regarding male’s tolerance, solicitation, and use of FMM. First, we found that FMM was tolerated by male mountees who were no more likely to aggress their female partners during a short time window around a FMM, than they were during the rest of the consortship period. Second, we showed that FMM could be triggered by male recipients, via explicit male-to-female sexual solicitations. Third, we found that some males may utilize FMM in a quest for their own sexual stimulation, which sometimes culminated in masturbation by the male during FMM. Our findings indicate that male partners facilitate the expression of FMM both passively (via their tolerance) and actively (via their solicitation). In addition, FMM appears to enhance the sexual arousal of male partners during consortships. We argued that, for females to have expanded their repertoire of sexual solicitations by adopting FMM, male mates must have played a role in the evolutionary origins and maintenance of this non-conceptive, but intense and powerful female mating tactic.
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    Are the roots of human economic systems shared with non-human primates?
    (Elsevier, 2020) Addessi, Elsa; Beran, Michael J.; Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha; Brosnan, Sarah F.; Leca, Jean-Baptiste
    We review and analyze evidence for an evolutionary rooting of human economic behaviors and organization in non-human primates. Rather than focusing on the direct application of economic models that a priori account for animal decision behavior, we adopt an inductive definition of economic behavior in terms of the contribution of individual cognitive capacities to the provision of resources within an exchange structure. We spell out to what extent non-human primates’ individual and strategic decision behaviors are shared with humans. We focus on the ability to trade, through barter or token-mediated exchanges, as a landmark of an economic system among members of the same species. It is an open question why only humans have reached a high level of economic sophistication. While primates have many of the necessary cognitive abilities (symbolic and computational) in isolation, one plausible issue we identify is the limits in exerting cognitive control to combine several sources of information. The difference between human and non-human primates’ economies might well then be in degree rather than kind.