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article imageLemurs born to older moms are less likely to be attacked

By Tim Sandle     Dec 22, 2013 in Environment
Infant lemurs born to older mothers are less likely to get hurt than those born to younger mothers, according to a long-term research study.
Scientists have examined the medical records for more than 240 ring-tailed lemurs over a 35-year period and have concluded that infants born to older mothers are less likely to get bitten. The researchers speculate that this may be because older moms are better at fending off attackers or protecting their infants during fights.
The reason for this hypothesis is because female lemurs can be very aggressive. Female lemurs compete with one another for first dibs on food and chase away males at mealtimes, sometimes lunging or snapping at each other with their sharp canine teeth.
Of the 237 ring-tailed lemur babies born at the Duke Lemur Center between 1971 and 2006, 15 were bitten before their first birthday, all of whom died from their wounds. The 15 that were bitten were all born to young mothers.
Lemurs are primates native to the island of Madagascar. Lemurs are named after the lemures (ghosts or spirits) of Roman mythology. The lemurs studied were from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina.
The research team were from the National Center for Scientific Research in Montpellier, France and the findings have been reported in the journal PLoS One. The paper is called "Victims of Infanticide and Conspecific Bite Wounding in a Female-Dominant Primate: A Long-Term Study."
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