Japan researchers find chimps caring for disabled infant

Usually, a chimpanzee baby can hang onto their care-giver by itself
Usually, a chimpanzee baby can hang onto their care-giver by itself
A chimpanzee mother cared for her disabled infant in the wild in Tanzania, Japanese researchers reported in a study published this week, research they hope will help in understanding the evolution of social care in humans.

A team of Kyoto University researchers discovered that a "severely disabled" female chimpanzee baby was born in a group in Tanzania's Mahale Mountains National Park in 2011, and recorded behaviour of the group for about two years.

"The observed infant exhibited symptoms resembling Down syndrome, similar to those reported previously for a captive chimpanzee," they said in an abstract of the study published Monday in the online edition of Primates, an international journal of primatology.

"The mother's compensatory care for her infant's disabilities and allomothering of the infant by its sister might have helped it to survive for 23 months in the wild" when the infant disappeared and was believed to have died, they said.

Allomothering refers to care of infants performed by those other than the biological mother.

The mother and the sister of the chimpanzee supported its body with their arms when the mother was breastfeeding it, Michio Nakamura, associate professor at Kyoto University's Wildlife Research Center, told AFP on Wednesday.

"Usually, a chimpanzee baby can hang onto their care-giver by itself, but this infant's legs were not powerful enough," he said.

"It is the first time it was observed in the wild that a disabled chimpanzee was receiving social care."

"We believe the study offers a fresh clue as to how human society, which socially cares for disabled members, has evolved," he said.

Signs of social care for the disabled have been discovered in research on human ancestors, and "there has been discussion that the ability to give care was probably obtained when our ancestors became humans," he noted.

The mother of the baby did not allow nonrelatives to take care of the disabled infant even though she had been previously relatively tolerant of allomothering by nonrelatives for her other children, the researchers said.

"Other group members did not show any averse or fearful reactions to the disabled infant," the study said.


Explore further

Pregnant chimp adopts orphan in 'unheard of' act

Journal information: Primates

© 2015 AFP

Citation: Japan researchers find chimps caring for disabled infant (2015, November 11) retrieved 23 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-japan-chimps-disabled-infant.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
1818 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Nov 11, 2015
Bonobo monkeys have been observed to exercise the "Golden Rule" first postulated by the Greeks some 600 years before jesus ie "Do unto others as you would be done by"...
Several links found with this simple google search
https://www.googl...+rule%22

A concise description with a bit more info
https://en.wikipe...den_Rule

Social life of Bonobo monkeys is a great read a LOT like humans
https://en.wikipe...i/Bonobo

Senegalese monkeys learn to make spears
http://news.disco...0414.htm

Questions arise (re above) for religious zealots, especially those trying to obfuscate science & push creationism:-

1. Are they atheists ?
2. If not then how did their god communicate to them ?
3. If not 1 then 3.1 how can it proved and 3.2 How do they pray ?

Claims don't cut it - Evidence is king !

Nov 11, 2015
If you want to understand animal caring look at wolves and foxes: hunters often find trap individual's surviving for months on the food other members of their pack bring to them. Caring is not uniquely human. One however must doubt the relevance of the Mahale chimp: due to humans big dangerous predators no longer threaten them allowing them to show behavior that might not have existed at earlier times--including in the ancestors of humans.

Nov 11, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 11, 2015
Awww... come on... give Muttering Mike, our resident Wikipedia scholar, a break.
Nah... just kidding.
Hey Muttering Mike, what bluehigh said, minus the "drug" bit.
Oh.. still waiting for your response here - http://phys.org/n...ate.html

Nov 11, 2015
Bonobos are apes, not monkeys. You know, like humans, but they treat each other better.

Nov 11, 2015
If Muttering Mike, our resident Wikipedia scholar and science charlatan, had bothered to get someone to read him the first 2 lines of his alma mater's reference, he would have known not to call them monkeys.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more