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Am J Primatol. 2009 Jul;71(7):609-16. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20695.

Sexual size dimorphism in Asian colobines revisited.

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Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Asian colobines exhibit a wide range of sexual dimorphism in body mass. Some species are monomorphic, whereas others are strongly dimorphic. Strong sexual dimorphism is generally viewed as the consequence of intense male contest competition over access to mates, but this idea appears not to explain variation in sexual dimorphism in Asian colobines. Our results show that modular colobines, i.e. species in which social units aggregate into higher-level bands or often associate, have significantly higher levels of sexual dimorphism in body mass than the nonmodular ones. This finding was corroborated by means of phylogenetically controlled methods and multiple regression analyses. The results suggest that living in a modular society intensifies the contest competition among males, which is further exacerbated by the continuous presence of all-male units.

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