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Care And Exploitation Of Nonhuman Primate Infants By Conspecifics Other Than The Mother

S. B. Hrdy
Published 1976 · Psychology

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Publisher Summary This chapter shares the instances of care for infants by individuals other than the natural mother, and examines the instances of abuse of infants by males and females of various primate species and the advantages and disadvantages of such behavior for the parties concerned enumerated. Natural-selection pressures on the infant and on the mother-infant pair to either attract or discourage conspecific attentions are explored. Some differences between male and female treatment of infants are also discussed. For most primate studies, there are no firm data on kinship but the following assumptions are made: (1) in multimale troops, dominant males are most likely to copulate with females at the height of estrus, and females are most likely to be impregnated at this time, for example, baboons and macaques; younger and more subordinate males are less likely either to have consort relationships or to impregnate females, (2) in harems, the length of the leader's reign, and his success in maintaining the breeding integrity of his troop, must be taken into account, for example, patas monkeys and one-male troops of langurs, but in general, this male will be the progenitor of that troop's recent offspring, and (3) in matrifocal societies in which contact with the mother may continue after birth of the next infant juveniles or adults that seek recurrent contact with an older multiparous female may be assumed to be her offspring, and thus, her new children their half-siblings. Using behavioral indices to determine the probable degree of relationship becomes dangerously circular when kinship derived this way is then used as a part of the explanation for observed behavior.
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