Proud Daddies? Study shows male Barbary macaques use infants as status symbols

Friday, June 25, 2010 - 2:14pm

Check out this interesting New York Times article, which describes unusual behavior in Barbary macaque males. They use infants -- their own and others -- to facilitate bonding with other males, toting infants as status symbols. Dr. Julia Fischer of The German Primate Center conducted the study, which appears in the June issue of the journal Animal Behaviour.

After grabbing a baby and approaching other males, the macaques “will hold up the infant like a holy thing, nuzzling it, chattering their teeth,” Dr. Fischer said. “It can be a bit bewildering to see.” For the original article, see: Infants as costly social tools in male Barbary macaque networks.

By the way, according to the IUCN Red List, "[t]he Barbary Macaque is the only surviving primate in Africa north of the Sahara desert, the only native species of primate to occur in Europe, and the only member of the genus Macaca that can be found outside Asia." Today it is found only in Morocco and Algeria, and it is endangered.

A Barbary macaque on the Rock of Gibraltar. Creative Commons image.

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