Reports and quantitative descriptions of wild primate births are rare due to the frequent occurrence of nighttime parturitions. The aim of this study was to describe in detail one daytime birth event in a free-ranging band of Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana), a highly endangered colobine species endemic to China. Using focal-animal sampling, we recorded both the birth event and behavior of the mother and other group members. The partum stage lasted 4 min 10 s. Immediately after parturition, the mother severed the umbilical cord, ingested the placenta, and cleaned the newborn. During the birthing process, the mother received what may possibly be described as birth assistance from one multiparous female within the same one-male unit. Although “aunting” or infant caregiving behavior has previously been reported in coloblines, this is the first putative case of birth assistance in a nonhuman primate.
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The study was supported by the Key Program of National Natural Science Fund (31130061), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31572278, 31472014, 31270442, 31470456, 31501872), Special Foundation of Shaanxi Academy of Sciences, China (2014K-29), China Samsung (2015). The funding organizations had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We thank Guanyinshan Nature Reserve for permission to carry out this study. We greatly appreciate our field assistants (Pu Zhiyong and Peng Yong) for indispensable support during this study, and especially students from the Primate Research Center of Northwest University China. PAG wishes to thank Chrissie, Sara, and Jenni for their love and support. We also appreciate Dr. Christine Watts for assisting with editing.
Bin Yang and Peng Zhang contributed equally to this work.
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Yang, B., Zhang, P., Huang, K. et al. Daytime birth and postbirth behavior of wild Rhinopithecus roxellana in the Qinling Mountains of China. Primates 57, 155–160 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-015-0506-y
- Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys
- Daytime birth
- Birth assistance