Golden-headed lion tamarin dads have very active roles in raising their young, other species could take a lesson from these fantastic fathers.
Golden-headed lion tamarin males are diligent in their role in raising young. Golden-headed lion tamarins are part of a primate group called callitrichids – which are small-bodied arboreal monkeys that live in areas of Central and South America. They live in small social clusters, and there’s usually only one breeding female per group. The rest of the squad is focused on taking care of the babies. Females almost always give birth to twins, and the infants have a surprisingly large body weight at birth.
The twins need to be continuously carried and provided with supplemental food for up to six months. Fortunately, female lion-headed tamarins receive help their male counterparts. Male callitrichids of many species play a large role in both carrying newborns and providing them with food. In fact, male helpers generally play a larger role in newborn care than non-breeding female helpers do. Also, juvenile golden-heads stand a greater chance of growth and survival when they’re raised in groups with many males instead of just one.
Why do these males provide so much support in raising babies? It’s hypothesized that displaying their skills in newborn care could lead to future reproductive opportunities with the breeding female. In addition, infant care is required in order to remain in the group. Benefits include a much greater level of protection from predators and easier access to food and potential for future mating opportunities.