The Loh Down On Science

Monogamy rates in South America will surprise you!

Being a faithful mate just isn’t natural – or is it?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

True monogamy is rare in nature.  The few known examples include the anglerfish and a tapeworm where mates are literally fused together until death.  

But what about the southern owl monkeys of South America?  Couples are inseparable.  Dad does equal or more upbringing.  The monkeys maintain good wholesome families.  Right?

Enter Maren Huck, from the University of Derby, UK.  Her goal?  To find genetic evidence of cheating in a monkey population in Argentina.  Which parents are raising offspring that aren’t biologically theirs?

She collected DNA from over a hundred monkeys across thirty social groups.  She sequenced each sample to get a genetic fingerprint of each individual.  Then she conducted maternity and paternity tests on 35 offspring.  And?

There’s wasn't one lovechild in the population, born of an ee-ee-oops!  Every couple was authentic – biological mom and dad with babe.  Aww!

This makes it the only known primate not to monkey around when paired.  Who’s your daddy?!  Him.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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