Domestication Phenotype Linked to Vocal Behavior in Marmoset Monkeys

Asif A. Ghazanfar*, Lauren M. Kelly, Daniel Y. Takahashi, Sandra Winters, Rebecca Terrett, James P. Higham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The domestication syndrome refers to a set of traits that are the by-products of artificial selection for increased tolerance toward humans [1, 2, 3]. One hypothesis is that some species, like humans and bonobos, “self-domesticated" and have been under selection for that same suite of domesticated phenotypes [4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. However, the evidence for this has been largely circumstantial. Here, we provide evidence that, in marmoset monkeys, the size of a domestication phenotype—a white facial fur patch—is linked to their degree of affiliative vocal responding. During development, the amount of parental vocal feedback experienced influences the rate of growth of this facial white patch, and this suggests a mechanistic link between the two phenotypes, possibly via neural crest cells. Our study provides evidence for links between vocal behavior and the development of morphological phenotypes associated with domestication in a nonhuman primate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5026-5032
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number24
Early online date15 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020


  • self-domestication
  • vocal turn-taking
  • Callithrix jacchus
  • neural crest cells
  • facial coloration


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