, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 28-35

Infant-use by male gelada in agonistic contexts: Agonistic buffering, progeny protection or soliciting support?

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Abstract

Two alternative theories have been proposed to explain why some male primates carry infants during agonistic encounters with other males. The first (agonistic buffering) suggests that males carry the infants of higher ranking opponents in order to defuse the latter's aggression; the second (progeny protection) suggests that males carry their own infants as a warning to opponents that they will be prepared to fight vigorously in order to protect their offspring from injury. Evidence is presented to show that both occur in gelada baboons under different circumstances and that, in addition, infant-use may in at least some cases involve indirect solicitation of support from a third party (normally the infant's mother).