Self-suckling in Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus) mothers before and after the death of their infant

Majolo, Bonaventura and Mcfarland, Richard (2009) Self-suckling in Barbary Macaque (Macaca sylvanus) mothers before and after the death of their infant. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140 (2). pp. 381-383. ISSN UNSPECIFIED

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.21125

Abstract

We report here self-suckling in four wild female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus), living in two troops (i.e. ‘‘Flat face’’ and ‘‘Large’’ troop) in the middle-Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The four females lost their infants due to predation or for unknown causes. Self-suckling was observed before and after the infants
died in the four females living in the ‘‘Flat face’’ troop.
When the infants were still alive, self-suckling was of
short duration and it was probably a method to improve
milk flow when the infant switched from one nipple to
the other. After the infants died, self-suckling lasted significantly longer and the females were apparently drinking their own milk. Self-suckling was never observed
among the four lactating females in the ‘‘Large’’ troop
(including one monkey who lost her infant) and it could
thus represent a cultural difference. Moreover, self-suckling after the death of an infant may be explained by the energetic and immunological benefits that a monkey
may gain from drinking their own milk. Finally, selfsuckling
may have a stress-releasing effect on the mothers
who have lost their infants.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:We report here self-suckling in four wild female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus), living in two troops (i.e. ‘‘Flat face’’ and ‘‘Large’’ troop) in the middle-Atlas Mountains, Morocco. The four females lost their infants due to predation or for unknown causes. Self-suckling was observed before and after the infants died in the four females living in the ‘‘Flat face’’ troop. When the infants were still alive, self-suckling was of short duration and it was probably a method to improve milk flow when the infant switched from one nipple to the other. After the infants died, self-suckling lasted significantly longer and the females were apparently drinking their own milk. Self-suckling was never observed among the four lactating females in the ‘‘Large’’ troop (including one monkey who lost her infant) and it could thus represent a cultural difference. Moreover, self-suckling after the death of an infant may be explained by the energetic and immunological benefits that a monkey may gain from drinking their own milk. Finally, selfsuckling may have a stress-releasing effect on the mothers who have lost their infants.
Keywords:culture, emotion, grief, lactation, maternal behavior, predation, prolactin, stress, animal tradition
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:2573
Deposited By: Rosaline Smith
Deposited On:01 Jun 2010 09:00
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 08:38

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