FunWhy do some primates commit infanticide?

Why do some primates commit infanticide?

Theinfanticide is extreme behavior, and in most species it is the male’s way of eliminating a competitor and accelerating the sexual receptivity of the females. However, a new study published in the journalPrimates and carried out with the participation of Spanish scientists reveals that in calitrichid primates, such asthe moustached tamarins ( Saguinus mystax ), it is the females that perpetrate the infanticide. “Thanks to genetic analysis, we show that it is the mother herself who ends the life of her calf,” explains Yvan Lledo-Ferrer, one of the authors and researcher in the Department of Psychobiology at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM).

Thepaternal help(or its absence) is the key in these cases. After observing from 1999 to 2008 three different groups of moustached tamarins from the Peruvian jungle to determine how the help of other male members of the group and the absence of competition between females ensures the survival of the young, they found that75% of the offspring survive when at least three males help, and only 41.7% do so when the group has one or two male helpers. Regarding the competition with other females, 80% of the offspring die when they are less than three months old if there are two pregnant females in the group.

According to the researchers, in cases of infanticide, reproductive dominance is not well established, and there is competition among females for dominance. “This competition generateshigh levels of prenatal stress that can affect the fetus and therefore the viability of the offspringor to the milk production of mothers “, points out the Spanish scientist.

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