Oct. 15, 2018 (Phys.org) -- Males have greater reproductive success if they spend more time taking care of kids -- and not necessarily only their own, according to new research published by anthropologists at Northwestern University.
In a previous study, the researchers found that wild male mountain gorillas living in Rwanda do something that is quite unusual for a mammal -- they help take care of all of the kids that live in their social group, regardless of whether they are the father. The goal of the new study was to figure out why.
"Mountain gorillas and humans are the only great apes in which males regularly develop strong social bonds with kids, so learning about what mountain gorillas do and why helps us understand how human males may have started down the path to our more involved form of fatherhood," said Stacy Rosenbaum, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow in anthropology at Northwestern.
Christopher Kuzawa, a co-author of the study, said the findings run counter to how we typically think of male mountain gorillas -- huge, competitive and with reproduction in the group dominated by a single alpha male.