In the animal kingdom, day care is rare. Humans are among the very few species known to pool child care resources, raising their young with the help of other moms. But a research team from Yale University has discovered that on the island of Madagascar, black-and-white ruffed lemurs will house their young in communal nests -- and that this type of shared child care provides clear benefits to their offsprings’ survival.
The finding, reported in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology on Tuesday, was the fruit of six years of painstaking labor. Researchers tagged the lemurs, took samples for genetic analysis, and maintained a detailed diary of how moms budgeted their time before and after giving birth.