Scientists have figured out why proboscis animals need such a big nose (7 photos)

Category: Animals, PEGI 0+
27 May 2024

Proboscis monkeys are one of the strangest creatures in the animal kingdom. The females of these monkeys have pointed noses, and the males have large, “phallic” noses, for which they were even called “the ugliest animals in the world.” But these cuties don't deserve this status - especially after scientists have figured out the reason for their peculiarity.

Scientists from the Australian National University decided to take a closer look at proboscis monkeys, a species of primate from the subfamily of slender-bodied monkeys. Their unusual noses of an elongated, “phallic” shape deserve special attention, for which they are nicknamed one of the ugliest animals in the world. In a new study, scientists tried to understand why this unusual feature arose - and found that it has a number of advantages.

For the study, the team used 3D scans of monkey skulls. First, they found that over time, the shape of the skulls of proboscis monkeys changed to allow males to make louder sounds and thereby show their dominance. This helps male monkeys attract females and repel other males. The more females a male can attract, the more offspring he can produce, and having a big nose and making loud noises is a sign of good health and dominance, and therefore a guarantee of successfully attracting a female.

Secondly, according to scientists, proboscis whales live in coastal mangroves and forests, and often cannot see each other through the trees. Therefore, loud nasal sounds are important for communication with each other, especially among males. The scans also showed that the nasal cavity of proboscis monkeys gets larger as they age, which explains why older males have larger noses.

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