Cross-genus adoption of a marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) by wild capuchin monkeys (Cebus libidinosus): Case report

Department of Experimental Psychology, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
American Journal of Primatology (Impact Factor: 2.44). 07/2006; 68(7):692-700. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.20259
Source: PubMed


We report a case of interspecies adoption of an infant marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) by wild capuchin monkeys (Cebus libidinosus). The marmoset was an infant when it was first observed in the capuchin group on 3 March 2004. Since it first appeared it has been observed informally and frequently. In January 2005 systematic observations were made of the marmoset and a capuchin of similar age. Throughout its period of adoption the marmoset appeared to be socially integrated into the group, benefiting from nurturant behaviors exhibited by two successive adoptive "mothers" and pronounced tolerance from all members of the group. This case highlights the flexibility of both Callithrix and Cebus in accommodating variable social behaviors and other characteristics (including size) of social partners.

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Available from: Eduardo Ottoni, Apr 01, 2014
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    • "In this case, the infant was successively adopted by two females of the same group ( Izar et al. 2006 ), a more typical pattern expected for female than for male primates ( Schino et al. 1993 , Maestripieri 2001 ). Considering that, in the present case, the abductor was an adult male and bearing in mind that his behaviour could potentially have been fatal to the infant, we argue that interspecific adoption is unlikely. "
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    ABSTRACT: The likelihood of interspecific interactions between wild primates is particularly high for species with overlapping territories. The sharing of the same or similar ecological niches can result in competition for space or resources, which can lead to agonistic encounters such as predator-prey interactions. Here, we report the observation of an abduction and potential case of predation of an infant howler monkey (Alouatta guariba clamitans) by an adult male capuchin monkey (Sapajus nigritus) in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Evidence of capuchin monkeys’ predation of other smaller sympatric primate species has already been reported, as well as description of agonistic interactions between capuchin and howler monkeys, but none as drastic as the case described here. Although we were not able to collect evidence after the abduction, we discuss the events leading up to it and present arguments in favour of the case of interspecific predation or infanticide.
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    • "Although certain cross-species interactions in mammals, such as predation or anti-predatory associations between species for defensive purposes, are well-reported (Endler, 1991), most other forms of interaction go unreported or remain anecdotal, including instances such as cross-species play or alloparenting in the wild. Examples of such cases include a female Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) riding on the back of sympatric deer (Cervus nippon yakushimae) in Yakushima Island in Japan (Kiyono personal communication), a wild and unprovisioned capuchin monkey (Cebus libidinosus) nursing a marmoset (Izar et al., 2006), or a solitary lioness in the Samburu Game Reserve in Kenya 'adopting' and protecting oryx (Oryx beisa) calves (Douglas-Hamilton, 2002). This latter example is notable as it concerns a large-bodied carnivore and its typical prey species. "
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    • "Animal products account for more than $100 billion per annum in the United States and ∼$186 million in China (People's Daily Online 2005). Same-species alloparenting is reasonably common among nonhuman primates (Maestripieri 2001; Stanford 1991; Thierry and Herrenschmidt 1985; Vasey 1997, 2007), but a search of the scientific literature turned up only one report of cross-species alloparenting in a wild primate: a capuchin monkey who nursed a marmoset (Izar et al. 2006). Nearly all reported cases of mammalian cross-species alloparenting involve human intervention (Mateo and Holmes 2004). "

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