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Early maternal recognition of offspring vocalizations in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)


This study investigated the development of maternal recognition of infant calls in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Fifteen mothers and their offspring, of age ranging from several hours to 28 days, served as subjects of an experiment in which the offspring's distress vocalizations were recorded and then played back to their mothers simultaneously with those of an age-matched control infant. The proportion of time looking at, but not the proportion of orientations to the speaker playing the offspring's vocalizations increased significantly as a function of infant age. Specifically, mothers of infants older than 1 week of age responded longer to the playback of their own infant's calls than did mothers of younger infants. These findings provide the firt evidence that offspring recognition in macaques develops between the first and second week of the infant's life and are consistent with the hypothesis that mothers need to be exposed to their infants' calls in order to learn their acoustic characteristics.

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Jovanovic, T., Megna, N.L. & Maestripieri, D. Early maternal recognition of offspring vocalizations in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Primates 41, 421–428 (2000).

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Key words

  • Rhesus macaques
  • Mother-infant recognition
  • Vocalizations