The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


An integrative approach to understanding primate mating systems: Oxytocin and New World monkeys

DANIEL SPROCKETT1, ALANA MUHLBERGER1, MARY ANN RAGHANTI1, MARILYN NORCONK1 and CHI-HUA CHIU1,2.

1Department of Anthropology, Kent State University, 2Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University

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The oxytocin (OT) neuropeptide system is consistently implicated in the formation and maintenance of social bonds across species. OT and oxytocin receptor (OTR) amino acid sequences are highly conserved across Mammalia, with identical amino acid sequences reported for OT from marsupial mammals to humans. We examined protein coding and noncoding, putative cis-regulatory sequences of OT and OTR in primates. For protein coding sequences, we find that New World monkey (NWM; Playtyrrhini) species have acquired novel OT and OTR amino acid replacements in a lineage-specific manner. For putative cis-regulatory sequences (identified using phylogenetic footprinting), we find that NWM exhibit lineage specific modifications of blocks of noncoding sequences that are otherwise conserved in non-platyrrhine primates and non-primate mammals. To better understand the complex and mosaic evolution of monogamy in primates, we have reconstructed the evolutionary history and interaction of seven traits including pair-bonding, paternal care, and duet vocalizations using phylogenetic methods (Mesquite 2.74). Using this analysis we propose a sequential pattern of trait emergence in the evolution of monogamy in NWM and other primate groups. This framework provides insights into the origin and behavioral maintenance of the unique evolutionary trajectory of the OT neuropeptide system in NWM.

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