Chimpanzees in captivity suffer from nocturnal erections and masturbate with unexpected endings

(ORDO NEWS) — Until now, of all primates, such phenomena were noted only in humans. However, male chimpanzees were able to bring something really new here.

Researchers from Kyoto University (Japan) studied the behavior of 12 adult male chimpanzees living in the Kumamoto nature reserve.

By spying on them with an infrared camera, the scientists learned that some of the sexual behavior of these animals resembled human males. However, some male chimpanzees took steps unthinkable for most male Homo sapiens.

What in everyday life is inaccurately called a morning erection actually happens to most men several times a night (normally in REM sleep, but not only). The exceptions are elderly men or those in deep depression.

This criterion is even used to determine whether that other patient suffers from physiological or only psychological impotence: an elastic device is put on the penis that fixes whether a man has a spontaneous nighttime erection or not (if so, then impotence is only psychological).

It is known that a similar phenomenon exists in women (nighttime clitoral swelling), but it is much more difficult to study its frequency, since it is extremely difficult to use similar devices on them, and other means of monitoring this process are rather impractical.

It is even more difficult to detect something similar in animals. You can’t put the device on: they will drop it. Many of them do not want to sleep in the light. So this time, scientists used an infrared camera that can detect the presence of a nocturnal erection even without such a device.

Of course, the camera has a drawback: if the chimpanzee turns so that his arousal cannot be seen, then nothing can be detected by observation. Therefore, it is possible that the figures obtained by the researchers are somewhat underestimated.

In total, the authors of the article observed each of the 12 males for six nights in a row – we note that all of them were kept without females. Eight out of 12 individuals had a nocturnal erection, in the norm – repeatedly.

Moreover, more than 75% of all such cases occurred during the transition from sleep to wakefulness. According to the researchers, this indicates a connection between such an erection and the phases of REM sleep, which is also observed in humans.

Chimpanzees in captivity suffer from nocturnal erections and masturbate with unexpected endings 2

Scientists note that in half a dozen individuals they recorded movements that are extremely similar to masturbation: in four out of six, they were able to see it quite clearly with an infrared camera.

The masturbating individuals also revealed an unusual behavioral trait that is absent in human males: they, judging by the pictures, absorbed their own seminal fluid, naturally released as a result of masturbation.

The meaning of this is unclear. In humans, the absorption of a similar fluid by a female sexual partner has a clear adaptive meaning: it reduces the risk of miscarriage and, probably, toxicosis.

It is assumed that the woman’s immune system “gets used” to the cells of the sexual partner and with less intensity attacks cells with genetic material similar to that found in her partner’s sperm.

As a result , the likelihood of preeclampsia , a rather serious condition for a pregnant woman, also decreases (it is responsible for a significant part of maternal mortality). However, in the case of a male chimpanzee, this is clearly impossible.

Chimpanzees in captivity suffer from nocturnal erections and masturbate with unexpected endings 3
Chimpanzee masturbation itself is not new for a long time, as is the fact that they use improvised objects for it. However, its presence at night, immediately after a spontaneous nocturnal erection, may also indicate that among at least male chimpanzees there is something like erotic dreams

According to the authors of the work, both spontaneous nocturnal erections and masturbation from a functional point of view can be useful for chimpanzees, as they improve the quality of their sperm.

It should be noted that this conclusion was made without analyzing the actual ejaculate of the observed animals, entirely on the basis of an analogy with human males. In those, masturbation does indeed correlate with increased sperm quality.

The researchers also suggested that periodically increasing the oxygen saturation of the tissues of the penis reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction – this can also be a positive factor for male chimpanzees.


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