The new study may lend an insight into the mechanisms behind pair bonding, which does not necessarily go together with monogamy, and parental mechanisms in other species, including humans.
"Pair bonding - love, if you want - is prevalent in all human societies, whereas fathering is much more variable," study author Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. "The owl monkey story is suggesting that, under very specific ecological settings, this preference for each other leads to the pair spending a lot of time in close proximity, thus facilitating paternal care and increasing paternity certainty. Genetic monogamy is the result."
On the other hand, things are often more complicated with humans, and "the extreme form of paternal care" observed in Azara's owl monkeys is hard to find. In fact, humans often do the exact opposite.
"There are societies in which males don't channel resources to the children of their partners, but they invest in the children of their sisters," Fernandez-Duque told Live Science. This is because men have a higher certainty that they are related to their sisters and their sisters' offspring than the children who are presumably theirs, he said.