The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)


Testosterone, musculature, and development in Kanyawara chimpanzees and Tsimane forager-horticulturalists

MARTIN N. MULLER1, MELISSA EMERY THOMPSON1, BRET A. BEHEIM1, DREW K. ENIGK1, MICHAEL GURVEN2, KRISTIN SABBI1, BENJAMIN C. TRUMBLE3, RICHARD W. WRANGHAM4 and HILLARD S. KAPLAN1.

1Anthropology, University of New Mexico, 2Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara, 3School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, 4Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

April 16, 2016 2:30, A 703/704 Add to calendar

Considerable evidence suggests that the steroid hormone testosterone mediates major life-history trade-offs in primates, promoting mating effort at the expense of parenting effort or survival. In many species, chronic shifts in testosterone production over the life course correlate with investment in male-male competition. Chimpanzees and humans represent interesting test cases, because although closely related, they maintain divergent mating systems. Chimpanzee males do not invest in pair bonds or paternal care. Consequently, across the lifespan, their testosterone levels are expected to track changes in (1) behavioral investment in dominance striving, and (2) investment in sexually dimorphic musculature employed in male-male competition. Humans, by contrast, are expected to show weaker associations between testosterone and musculature, because the latter is important not only for male competition, but for men’s work provisioning wives and children. We assayed >7000 chimpanzee and >3350 Tsimane urine samples for testosterone, creatinine, and specific gravity, in the same laboratory using the same assay methods. Male chimpanzees showed peak acceleration in testosterone increase at age 6, peak velocity at age 10, and peak deceleration at age 14, reaching adult levels by 15-16, when they began to challenge other adult males. Adult levels of testosterone were achieved 3 years later than in captivity, likely reflecting energetic constraints in the wild. Indirect measures of muscle mass followed a similar pattern, and were highly correlated with testosterone. As predicted, Tsimane men exhibited a weaker correlation, with testosterone accounting for half as much variance in the muscle mass measure as in the chimpanzee sample.

This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants BCS-0849380 and BCS 1355014, NIA grants R01 AG024119-01, R56 AG024119-06, R01 AG024119-07, R01 AG049395-01 and the Leakey Foundation.