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Laura J. Baumgartner

Department of Biology
University of St. Thomas
The Case of the Sexually Arrested Orangutans 

This case examines the hormonal control of the development and maturation to adulthood and the role of stress hormones in that developmental process. The case was adapted from results summarized in Maggioncalda and Sapolsky’s (2002) article in Scientific American. It presents evidence for why an unusual adaptation for reproduction in subordinate male primates may have evolved as a means of reducing stress. Students are presented with data from the published studies and asked to analyze and interpret the results to formulate hypotheses. Initially developed for an upper division endocrinology course, the case has been used in an upper division comparative anatomy-physiology course, and could be used in an animal behavior or behavioral ecology course.