Monday, 16 June 2014

World’s Best Dad? Owl Monkeys Win The Title Hands Down

June 14, 2014

Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

If you’re last minute shopping for Father’s Day, you’re going to want to put down that ‘World’s Best Dad’ mug. Trust me.

According to Patricia C. Wright of Stony Brook University and the 2014 winner of the Indianapolis Prize – widely regarded as the Nobel Prize for conservation – no matter how devoted you think your father may be as a parent, another clear winner has emerged in the animal kingdom, forever seizing the title of ‘World’s Best Dad’.

A dependent infant owl monkey rides
 comfortably on its father's back. 
Credit: Davalos Owl Monkey Project, 
Formosa-Argentina
Wright, a renowned primatologist, conservationist and author of High Moon over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night (Lantern Books: 2013) feels her position of expertise allows her to crown the owl monkey (also known as the night monkey) with the lofty title. Unlike other fathers in the animal kingdom that, at best, would be considered dead beats and, at worst, might possibly eat their own offspring given the chance, the owl monkey father takes on the role of primary caregiver to its young, superseding the care and affection of even the mother.

Owl monkey fathers are actively engaged in the rearing of their young, going so far as to carry them almost everywhere, even when being pursued by predators. These, and other insights on the owl monkey familial hierarchy and community were garnered by Wright due to her National Science Foundation-funded years of research in the rainforests of South America.

THIS POPPA AIN’T NO ROLLIN’ STONE

Another supremely interesting trait of the adult male owl monkey is their life-long devotion to their female partner. True monogamy in the wild is an extremely rare behavior. This monogamy was verified by the same style of DNA fingerprinting that is used in our legal system to determine paternity.

This same DNA fingerprinting method was used also to disprove the perceived true monogamy of the elegant swan, long the classic icon of love and fidelity. It turns out swans are actually what is termed ‘socially monogamous’. While forming a long-term pairing with whom they mate and raise young, they will both occasionally mate outside the relationship.

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