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Scientists have been reporting sightings of wild spider monkeys rubbing themselves with chewed-up leaves that may function as perfumes. Although it’s unproven that they do it specifically to take on an aroma, mounting evidence points that way, the investigators say. The scents “may play a role in the context of social communication, possibly for signaling of social status or to increase sexual attractiveness,” scientists wrote in journal Primates.
Matthias Laska of University of Munich Medical School, Germany, described watching a group of 10 black-handed spider monkeys. Working in
Laska’s team found, in accord with a past study, that the monkeys swiped the fragrant mix only on their armpits and breastbone areas, and that this occurred independently of time of day, season, temperature or humidity. The previous study—published in 2000—also found, consistent with the new one, that males do it more often than females.