primates live together in groups made up of adults and young. The
largest groups, for example like baboons,
may contain hundreds of animals, but most have between 10 and 20
in them. All group members work together to protect the herd, giving
out cries of alarm when a predator is spotted, or another type of
call when food is found.
come in many different varieties. On the one extreme, there are
where after mating takes place, the male has no contact with the
mother or the offspring for about four years. The other end of the
spectrum is the marmoset,
where the male takes the baby at birth and cares for it, except
for breastfeeding, until it is able to feed itself.
many other mammals, primates have relatively few young, and their
offspring take a long time to develop. Most primates usually give
birth to a single baby, although some species, such as dwarf lemurs,
usually have twins or triplets. The length of time it takes for
a primate baby to grow up depends on the species. In small prosimians,
the young are often weaned after a few weeks, whereas some apes
feed their offspring milk for three or four years and continue to
protect them until they are six years old or more. This long childhood,
like that of humans, provides plenty of time for the young primate
to learn things like which foods are safe to eat and how to behave
properly so they can fit into the social group.
good parents. The newborn baby clings to its mother's chest, and
when it gets older, rides on her back. Sometimes fathers carry the
baby too. In the social group, often the grandparents, uncles, aunts,
brothers, and sisters all help look after it.
and apes are very much like human children. They like to make friends
and play with other youngsters of about the same age. Since they
can't talk, primates make friends by playing together and grooming
each other. There are many benefits to play. Not only is it good
exercise, but play is actually practice for real activities in later
life. During play, a young primate is getting to know other primates
and discovering his or her place in the social hierarchy of the
a large part of primate life, and it includes grooming others as
well as oneself. It is certainly about hygiene, but it is also to
do with social relationships. Grooming appears to strengthen the
bond between individuals and among family members.