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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1993 Feb;90(2):229-36.

Testicle size of orang-utans in relation to body size.

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Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322.


Few data are available for assessing the relative testicle size of orang-utans, Pongo pygmaeus, so measures were obtained for 31 individuals of varying age. It was shown that the volume of the testicles, calculated from in situ measures of testicle length and breadth, closely approximates testicle weight when multiplied by the specific gravity of solid tissue. Growth curves for body weight and data published for wild specimens were evaluated to obtain the weight most characteristic of male Pongo, and the ratio of testicle weight to body weight was calculated. The mean ratio for individuals with fully adult stature is 0.034, similar to but smaller than that of humans at about 0.050, and larger than the ratios reported for 5 gorillas at 0.013. The testicles mature faster than the body, however, so the mean ratio for young adult orang-utans is about 0.056 and resembles the ratio for humans more closely than the full adults. The differences between the ratios for a monogamous gibbon species, orang-utans, and humans is accounted for when testicle size relative to the weight of the female is considered. This is consistent with a sperm dilution effect produced by variation in the size of the female reproductive tract. The small relative testicle size of the gorilla is anomalous and requires verification as does the application of female size to scale the testicles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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