Smell that? Yep, that’s love. No, it’s not the scent of red roses or fine chocolate – it’s the odor from a pair of lemur partners. A new study from Duke University has found that the more similar two lemurs’ scents are, the stronger the connection. Researchers studied the scents omitted from Coquerel’s sifaka lemurs, along with their scent-marking and sniffing activities during the breeding period.
In a modern day lemur-romance, before offspring is on their minds, lemur couples get to know one another by investigating each other’s scent. After lemur lovers give birth to their little lemur babies, the mommy and daddy smell more like one another. Even if a lemur couple with kids hasn’t been together that long, their scents are more in sync than couples without offspring that have together for a while. This is possibly attributed to the swapping of odor-producing bacteria that happens while doing the deed, grooming, canoodling, and other forms of physical activity.
Coquerel’s sifakas have glands on their throats and genital areas that secrete sticky goo. The lemur juice was collected straight from the naughty bits by researchers who identified chemical ingredients in each creature’s signature fragrance.
Other than just trading bodily fluids, these lemurs also rub their smelly goo onto trees and other surroundings in an activity called scent-marking. When one lemur started doing this, the other lemur followed. While it’s uncertain what the sifakas’ chemical messages exactly mean, it’s possible that they’re defending territories or showing off their relationship to other lemurs. So, pretty much the lemur-version of a letterman jacket.