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Am J Primatol. 2007 Mar;69(3):249-54.

First direct evidence of infanticide and cannibalism in wild snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti).

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Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, P.R. China.


Although infanticide has been witnessed in many species of Colobinae, and a case was observed in a captive group of golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana), observed cases of infanticide in wild snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus spp.) have not previously been recorded. Here we describe the killing of a 1-month-old infant by a male in a black-and-white snub-nosed monkey (R. bieti) group at Xiaochangdu in Tibet. The infanticidal attack was witnessed as part of a long-term observational study of ecology and behavior that began in June 2003. The male was observed killing and eating the infant. The literature proposes three main explanations for infanticide: two adaptive hypotheses (sexual selection and resource competition), and one nonadaptive hypothesis (social pathology). Individual cases of infanticide, such as this one, are important for comparative purposes, but when examined on their own they are difficult to interpret in relation to established theoretical frameworks. The cases we describe here show some consistency with the sexual selection hypothesis, but the lack of critical information (i.e., as to paternity) makes it impossible to draw a firm conclusion. This is also the first described case of cannibalism in snub-nosed monkeys.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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