Humans are not the only species to offer assistance to someone who is in the process of giving birth.
Birth in humans is a particularly long and painful affair that requires the presence and services of a qualified midwife. In the animal kingdom most species have it somewhat easier, in the case of monkeys birth can take place within just ten minutes, but researchers observing black snub-nosed monkeys in China recently came across something unexpected that could rewrite the book on what we know about them.
As the researchers watched, a second monkey had approached the mother giving birth as the head of the baby started to emerge. This monkey 'midwife' appeared to provide support by pulling the infant out with both hands and tearing through the birth membranes. "This is a fairly rare observation," said Sarah Turner of McGill University. "It's hard to know what's going on in her head." The question is, was the second monkey acting out of a desire to assist or was she emulating the behavior that female monkeys would otherwise do by themselves when giving birth ?
Humans aren't built for giving birth. Babies' heads are big to accommodate their big brains, but the mother's hips are small because they walk upright. As a result, birth takes hours and is extremely painful – and midwives almost always help out.
View: Full article | Source: New Scientist
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