Nicolas Claidière
Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive
Aix-Marseille University, CNRS
13331 Marseille, France

Alloparental care and wandering baby monkeys

Pierre Jacob recently discussed Sarah Hrdy’s book Mothers and Others in which she argues that humans, like New World monkeys but unlike other apes, are cooperative breeders. As Pierre summarizes, cooperative breeding implies that newborns and youngsters have evolved the capacity to engage adults in caring for them and that adults have evolved the capacity to share the care of their offspring. Adults are therefore naturally attracted toward newborns, who eventually solicit their attention, and inexperienced mothers compete for newborns with other adults, including the mother, to gain more experience in parental care. The following video, just filmed by Mark Bowler at the Living Links Center in Edinburgh (where I am now pursuing my research) nicely illustrates Hrdy’s description of alloparental care.

New born capuchin monkeys interacting with alloparents.

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