Meet The Monkey Midwives!

Video highlights from China's Golden Monkeys

Scientists discover golden snub-nosed monkeys help each other during birth.

For humans, the assistance of a midwife during birth can be a lifesaver – and the same appears true for China’s golden snub-nosed monkeys.

Researchers recently witnessed the birth of a monkey, with assistance from a fellow primate.

The “monkey midwife” stayed by the mother’s side, grooming her during contractions, helping to pull the baby from the birth canal and holding the baby after birth.

The “monkey midwife” helps to pull the baby from the birth canal [Image: Bin Yang]

Most monkeys are born at night, so this glimpse into monkey birthing is truly rare. Especially as the whole process takes less than 5 minutes.

‘Daytime births offer the researcher better observational conditions (particularly visual) than night-time births, allowing the birth process and interactions between parturient, neonate, and other individual to be more easily documented,’ the authors wrote.

The new mother and her helper [Image: Bin Yang]

‘Studying daytime births can provide better understanding of the set of social and environmental factors, as well as the role of maternal experience, in influencing the birth process.’

Hidden in high in the forests of China's wildest mountains, the golden snub-nosed monkeys live out their days in the tree tops. Lost to science for many years, the snub-nosed monkey was once thought to be extinct.

Today, they face extinction as the outside world closes in on their forests. It's a race against time as scientists struggle to find the answers to their survival.

Residing in the rigid White Horse Snow Mountains in China's Yunnan province, the snub nose monkeys made these seemingly impossible mountains their home thousands of years ago.

With temperatures well below zero in the winter, they reside in a forbidding part of the Chinese Himalayas. The monkeys subsist on lichen and bark in the harshest days of winter, when leaves are scarce.

They are the ultimate survivors, surpassing seemingly impossible feats each year. These remarkable primates have survived by adapting themselves to some of the harshest places on earth.

As winter sets in, the scramble to gather enough nutrition to keep warm is on. The entire troop will bulk up on as much food as they can in preparation for the lean winter months.

Luckily, these monkeys have specialized stomachs to digest the widest variety of plants and leaves, making the foraging process a lot easier when food is scarce.

Snub-nose monkeys are long distance travellers, moving in large troops often number in the hundreds. Grooming between monkeys helps strengthen family bonds, keeps their fur clean and removes parasites. 

The sensitive monkeys are easily startled by confrontations between members of the troop. Scientists are only just beginning to study how many vocalizations the monkeys use and how they use them.

The monkeys' special noses may help them communicate to the rest of their band, helping them to produce calls that can be understood through thickly forested woods.

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