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Like humans, chimpanzees can suffer for life if orphaned before adulthood

Male chimpanzees who lose their mother early in life are less competitive and have fewer offspring than sons who continue to live with their mothers

One of the greatest traumas we face is for our parents to die when we are children. Orphans can continue to suffer negative consequences of parental loss for the rest of their lives, including losing out on growth and health. New research shows that, like humans, chimpanzee offspring stay with their mothers until they are teenagers, after they are 12 years old. A series of new studies shows that orphaned chimpanzees also lose out on growth and survival. A new study in Science Advances from the Taï Chimpanzee Project in Ivory Coast and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, shows that in addition, orphaned sons are less competitive and have fewer offspring of their own than those who continue to live with their mothers. The remaining puzzle is, what is it that their mothers provide that keeps chimpanzees healthy and competitive?

© Liran Samuni, Taï Chimpanzee Project