Primate pair bonds

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: January 3, 2014

Love is in the air: sociality and pair bondedness influence sifaka reproductive signalling
Excerpt: “Notably, we provide the first evidence that the strength of a social bond can be reflected in the signallers’ olfactory behaviour and potentially also in the chemistry of its scent signals.”
My comment: The first evidence for the role of scent signals called pheromones in primate pair bonds was presented in 1977 and included in this book published on September 9, 1987.
Psychoendocrinology of Human Sexual Behavior (Sexual Medicine) by Harold Persky
Excerpt: “What is the significance of this periodic fluctuation in the male’s T? Several possibilities can be suggested: (1) the husband’s testosterone level has become entrained to the wife’s menstrual cycle reflecting the pair bonding of the two partners, or (2) a form of communication exists between the two partners whereby the female informs the male that she has ovulated and he responds, like the dominant rhesus monkey, with an increase in his testosterone level facilitating his entire sexual response cycle. These two hypotheses are not necessarily antithetical; in fact, they may be highly compatible in that the first possibility provides a mechanism to reenforce the couple’s pair bonding, and the second reenforces the couple’s reproductive capacity.” (p. 108)
My comment: Researchers have ignored the obvious fact that conserved molecular mechanisms link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in species from microbes to man. Thirty-seven years after Persky et al (1977) and 27 years after publication of his book in 1987, the ignorance of 1-2 generations of researchers is exemplified in reports like the one above with claims that “…we provide the first evidence…”
If researchers simply ignore the evidence that pheromones are responsible for bonding in all mammals, which was recently reported in the context of Common polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with human social recognition skills, someone else can pretend that their evidence is the first evidence that the conserved molecular mechanisms of cause and effect are conserved in all species.
The question arises: How could they not be?
The first evidence for conserved molecular mechanisms of cause and effect was included in The Scent of Eros: Mysteries of Odor in Human Sexuality (1995/2002). We cited the first evidence that Persky’s works provided in the context of pair-bonding in humans, which extended the evidence for pheromones across all species of mammals. The new first evidence reported by Greene and Drea  shows how far researchers must go to avoid using the word “pheromones” in the context of pair-bonding in primates.
In their report, the abstract mentions olfactory signals, chemically rich scent signals, glandular signals, and scent signals. In the text of their report: olfactory communication,  olfactory behaviour, olfactory cues,  scent signalling, chemical signalling, scent signatures are used in the context of the evolution of complex communicatory signals linked to the evolution of sociality. There is no mention of “pheromones”.
I mentioned this tactic in Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model.
Excerpt: “Sensory input is the proximate cause of hormone release, which means that hormone release correlated with brain imagery is typically interpreted out of context. Meanwhile, others have accepted the use of alternative terms for pheromones, such as social odors, body odors, signature scents, signaling peptides, chemosignals, or semiochemicals. Arguably, these newer and historically less well-defined terms help some researchers to cautiously avoid any connection from the stereotypical effects of insect pheromones on hormones and behavior to their adaptively evolved epigenetic effects on what appears to be hormone-organized neurogenetically controlled (Swarup, Huang, Mackay, & Anholt, 2013) neurogenic niche construction in the human hypothalamus (Lee et al., 2012; Migaud et al., 2010; Mittag et al., 2013; Nepomnaschy, Vitzthum, & Flinn, 2009).”
Excerpt 2: “Pheromones are … substances which are secreted to the outside by an individual and received by a second individual of the same species, in which they release a specific reaction, for example, a definite behavior, or a developmental process. (Karlson & Luscher, 1959, p. 55).”
Greene and Drea avoid use of the properly defined and widely-accepted term “pheromones. They stake their claim to providing the first evidence for primate olfactory/pheromonal communication, decades after Persky et al, and others, like me, provided unequivocal evidence that human pheromones are critical aspects of human pair bonding.  This behavior is typical of academics, and in this case should not be simply dismissed. In May, 2010, I allerted Dr. Drea ” to integrative works that in 2001 addressed the neuroendocrinology of selection and in 2006 addressed both the neuroendocrinology and neuroimmunology of mate choice via the same evolved neurophysiological mechanism.
“Pheromones are … substances which are secreted to the outside by an individual and received by a second individual of the same species, in which they release a specific reaction, for example, a definite behavior, or a developmental process. (Karlson & Luscher, 1959, p. 55).”
The epigenetically-effected hormone-organized and hormone-activated developmental processes and the affects of hormones on behaviors that human pheromones affect result from the conserved molecular mechanisms of cause and effect in all species including other primates. The claim that first evidence for a fact that has been repeatedly reported by others since 1977 is one of the false claims I have often seen made by human pheromone-deniers. The problem is that their false claims are becoming more ridiculous since they must avoid mention of “pheromones” and others can more readily see how they avoid use of the proper term.

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