Chimpanzees found to give birth in much the same way as humans

Friday, June 10, 2011 by: Nicole Parsons
Tags: chimpanzees, birth, health news

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(NaturalNews) Members of the Hominidae family chimpanzees are the closest living relatives to human beings and like us, they have been found to experience emotions and retain memories. With that in mind, a team from the Hayashibara Great Ape Research Institute in Okayama, Japan has evidence to prove that we have more in common with these intelligent primates than we had originally realized.

The research team spent time living and sleeping with captive chimpanzees and came to realize that the animals give birth in a manner that had been thought to be unique to humans; with the babies exiting the birth canal facing away from the mother. Lead researcher Dr. Satoshi Hirata told BBC news that they had been trying to grow and keep strong relationships with the chimpanzees. He went on to say, "we stayed in the room when they gave birth, so we could record the behavour with a camera from a very close distance."

In the paper, which is published in the Royal Society journal Biology letters, the scientists explained that in non-human primates, such as monkeys, the newborn emerges from the birth canal facing the mother. They explained that this allows the mother to "safely lift the infant towards her and clear its breath passage soon after the birth."

Dr. Hirata stated that "Anthropologists have argued that the fact that human babies are born facing way from the mothers have led to (the need for) midwifery. But our observation tells us that this is not true. We tend to think that we are unique, without knowing (enough) about other animals." In fact, the study reveals that pregnant chimps long for solitude during the actual birthing process.

The researchers were sure to stress the possibility that the three cases they caught on film could be exceptions to the rule. They went on to explain in their paper, "but (all of) the cases were similar in terms of the direction of the face and shoulders when they emerged," which suggests that this method of birthing is normal and regulated by the chimpanzees anatomy.

It is endearing to find new data suggesting that we as humans do share a very special bond with one of our closest primate relatives and it's exciting to think of what else we could discover as we learn more.

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