• Ateles geoffroyi;
  • spider monkey;
  • lethal aggression;
  • male coalitions


I report three cases of coalitionary aggression by adult male black-handed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) against subadult males within their community on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama. Two of these cases were followed by the disappearance and presumed death of the victim. Similar behavior was recently reported by Valero et al. [in press], who suggested that this behavior may be the result of intense male reproductive competition. Like the single instance they reported, the cases I report all occurred when the operational sex ratio was approximately 1:1, which suggests that intense competition among males for access to reproductively viable females may be a contributing factor. Additionally the very low density of spider monkeys on BCI may play a significant role in the occurrence of this lethal aggression. Large numbers of adult males are not necessary to protect a territorial boundary against neighboring groups, and additional males may act merely as mating competition. Am. J. Primatol. 68:1197–1201, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.