PARENTAL BEHAVIOR
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PARENTAL BEHAVIOR.

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The first social interactions of a newborn primate are with mother. The mountain gorilla is very careful to support her young infant as it clings to her. All primates seek contact with mother as soon as they are born -- and most are able to cling on their own within a day or two of birth.


  • Unlike many other animals, primates do not leave their infants in a nest or other protected area. Instead, mothers carry their infants wherever they go. Infants may cling to the belly or, as this young uakari is doing, ride on mother's back.

  • Scientific name: Cacajao calvusuakari -- wah-CAR-ee




  • The those groups differs between species. Group size, the number of adult males and adult females, and who does most of the breeding all vary between species.siamangs shown here live in a family unit consisting of an adult male, adult female and their young offspring. This is similar to the basic living unit of many humans -- mom, dad and the kids.

  • Family group of siamangs showing adult male (top), adult female (middle) and their offspring (bottom).

  • Scientific name: Symphalangus syndactylussiamangs -- SI-a-mangs


Group of mountain gorillas in African forest.


  • Multi-male groups are also common among the primates. Chimpanzee bands are made up of several adults of both sexes and their offspring. Such bands are temporary associations of animals who live in a larger community. Relationships between adult males are very important in these groups.

Three male chimpanzees sit together. Photo taken in a zoo group.Scientific name: Pan troglodytes


PLAY Chimpanzee


  • All primates play. Here a group of Chimpanzee lemurs engage in the most common form of play. This activity, characterized by chasing and wrestling, is called rough-and-tumble play. It seems to allow young animals to learn their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as that of their peers.

Group of ring-tailed lemurs wrestling.Scientific name: Lemur cattalemurs -- LEE-mers






  • All primates rely heavily on vision to explore their world. It is not surprising that facial expressions are an important communication tool. The youngest animals quickly learn to recognize the play face. The rhesus macaques, shown here with mouth open, demonstrate the play face seen in all monkeys, apes, and even humans at play.

Two rhesus monkeys wrestle.The animal on top (with head upside down) shows the open mouth play face.Scientific name: Macaca mulattarhesus macaques - REE-sus ma-KACKS


A mother rhesus macaque at center with her offspring responds to threats from two other monkeys.


Closeup of face of a golden snub-nosed monkey.The flaps of skin at the corners of the mouth are a normal facial feature of adult males in this species.


  • The not happy about a social interaction. Here another bow is a sign of submission that indicates to the animal receiving it that he or she is dominant. Most primate groups have a dominance hierarchy. Lower ranking animals can avoid fights with higher ranking animals by performing a formal sign of submission, such as a bow, when tensions are high.


Three chimpanzees in a zoo enclosure. The adult male on the left facing the camera is getting ready to run by the animals on the right.


  • These male lemurs are using another kind of body language -- signaling with their tails in the air. Tail position can communicate alertness and self-confidence.

Three ring-tailed lemurs from a captive group stand with tails in 'question mark' position. Animals are wearing identification collars.



A sifaka (related to the lemurs) rubs a scent-producing anal gland against the bark of a tree.Scientific name: Propithecus verreauxisifaka -- sih-FAHK-ah


Adult male chimpanzee stands bipedally and hoots.



  • An adult female have many friendly interactions throughout the day -- and most involve some form of touch. Mothers and infants spend a lot of time in contact, as do play partners, sexual partners, and other members of a social group. stumptail macaque presents to an adult male. He responds by touching her rear, and visually inspecting it for signs that she is in her fertile period and thus ready to mate.

An adult female stumptail macaque presents her genital area to an adult male. He will look, smell, touch and even taste her secretions to learn if she is ready to mate.Primates rely on many signals to determine the reproductive state of animals of the opposite sex.


  • The female have many friendly interactions throughout the day -- and most involve some form of touch. Mothers and infants spend a lot of time in contact, as do play partners, sexual partners, and other members of a social group. Japanese macaque reaches back and looks at her partner during their mating.

Later in the same sequence, the female Japanese macaque looks over her shoulder at the male. This often occurs when the male ejaculates.



Three long-tailed macaques sit together. The adult female in the center grooms a juvenile on the right.Scientific name: Macaca fascicularis


  • In a group of monkeys, such as these reinforces bonds between related animals and other members of a social group. long-tailed macaques, mothers groom their infants; females groom males; males groom females; older offspring groom their mother. All combinations of grooming partners are possible.

A large group of long-tailed macaques, including some mothers holding infants on their bellies, sit together. An adult male in the top row is being groomed by two other animals.



A female rhesus macaque holding an infant stares off camera at an opponent.


  • Early observers of their group. Fights and other forms of gorillas were impressed with their threats and displays. Here an adult male stands on two legs and beats his chest. This gained the gorilla the reputation as a very aggressive animal. Actually they are among the most peaceful of the primates.

Adult male silverback mountain gorilla stands bipedally while displaying in an African forest.Gorillas use a cupped hand position to make the sound associated with chest beating.


Members of two groups of African green monkeys threaten each other.Scientific name: Cercopithecus aethiops


Two large troops of rhesus monkeys threaten each other. Notice that several females carrying infants are in the front ranks.




Adult male lowland gorilla touches a young infant in a zoo enclosure.


Adult male saddleback tamarin carries a youngster on his back.Scientific name: Saguinus fuscicollis



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