Orphaned Chimps, Like Humans, can Suffer

It appears that chimpanzees, like their human counterparts, can suffer from being orphaned at a young age.

Study Overview

Researchers observed three chimpanzee communities of the Tai National Park. They kept full demographic records and collected fecal samples to conduct paternity tests on all new community members, for up to 30 years.

Results Overview

The data indicate that orphaned male chimpanzees are less competitive and have fewer offspring of their own than those who continue to live with their mothers.


Chimpanzees may have long childhoods, but mothers rarely directly provide them with food after ages four to five years when they are weaned. Mostly mothers let their offspring forage for themselves. So then what do chimpanzee mothers provide their sons that gives them a competitive edge over orphaned sons? Researchers do not yet know the answer.  What do you think?

Journal Reference:  Catherine Crockford, Liran Samuni, Linda Vigilant and Roman M. Wittig. Postweaning maternal care increases male chimpanzee reproductive success. Science Advances, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz5746

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