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Male and female lions are easy to tell the difference thanks to the long mane of hair around a male lion’s head. Lions are the only cats that are sexually dimorphic.
When male lions are around two years old, they start to grow a mane. Testosterone, a hormone responsible for changes in the body during puberty, causes the growth of lion manes around the head, neck and underbelly.
Researchers think physical fitness relates to bigger and darker manes. Studies have shown females are attracted to lions with bigger manes, and manes can communicate a male’s status and strength when around other lions.
As with lions, sexual dimorphism shows in other animals when they reach puberty.
Bornean orangutan Zaki, born spring 2021, has a long way to go before he looks like dad Tiram. Once orangutan males reach maturity at 13-15 years of age, they develop large cheek flaps as well as a throat sac. Male orangutans are also much larger than females — females can weigh up to 143 pounds while males can weigh up to 317 pounds.
Male and female black howler monkeys are colored quite differently. Mature males have black fur, while females and young offspring have blonde fur. Males also have a larger resonating chamber beneath the throat, allowing their calls to be louder and deeper than those of the females.
You’ve probably heard of male silverback gorillas before, but did you know the silver on their backs doesn’t appear until puberty? As male gorillas reach physiologic maturity, they develop a streak of silver hair that runs the length of their back from their shoulders to rump. Male gorillas are also much larger than females, weighing around 374 pounds while females weigh 154 pounds on average. Adult male gorillas also have a prominent sagittal crest, or large protrusion on top of their head which is made of the skull, connective jaw muscles and fatty tissue.