Why Are Baboons Bottoms Red?

February 14, 2024

The bright red bottoms of baboons are more than just a physical characteristic, they serve a vital purpose in the monkeys' lives. They are a sign of fertility and are used to attract mates. In the wild, baboons live in groups called troops. These troops can consist of as few as a half dozen animals or as many as 300 or more. The troops are a means of protection from predators and a way for the baboons to get food.

Female baboons will display their red bottoms during the mating season. This is because the female baboons' buttocks will swell and turn red during ovulation. The swollen buttocks signal to the males that they are ready to mate.

During this time, the baboons' buttocks can swell up to four to ten inches (10-16.5 centimeters) and become bright red in color. The swollen buttocks are also known as a "shower of fire," which is why baboons get the nickname of "fire-breathing" primates.

While it was once believed that a female's buttock size could determine her ability to conceive and raise her offspring to adulthood, research published in 2015 showed that this may not be the case. Researchers discovered that a female's fertility is determined by a number of factors, including troop levels and postpartum cycles, and that the swollen and reddened buttocks are not as important as previously thought when it comes to attracting mates.

Although some species of monkeys have reddish or pinkish buttock areas, this is only true for some of the baboon species such as the Hamadryas and the Celebes Crested Macaques. The rest of the baboon species have normal-colored buttocks. The red-colored buttocks are likely the result of a genetic mutation, and this trait is passed on to the baboons' offspring.


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