In some monkey species, monkey moms use snuggle time with their babies as a commodity. Mothers will “sell” time with their children to other females in their colony for the price of several minutes of grooming. As Science News puts it, they have a “do my hair before you touch my baby” rule.
The research team who made this discovery, which was described in the journal Animal Behaviour, studied vervet monkeys and sooty mangabeys in the Ivory Coast’s Tai National Park. Newborn infants draw crowds of female monkeys who want to touch, hold, and make lip-smacking noises at the babies. Touching of the baby can be had for a price of a few minutes spent grooming its mother, though it’s not really known why female monkeys are so drawn to the young of others.
We’ve all seen this scene being played out in the local park: When a guy walks a cute dog, people don’t hesitate to approach him to strike up a conversation about schnauzer breeds. Or there’s the guy-with-a-baby scenario, in which the baby-hauling dad is perceived as friendly and non-threatening (not to mention irresistible to some women).
Now, new research from France suggests that male Barbary macaques may be onto the same “baby effect” strategy. The study found that male macaques with an infant were more likely to make male monkey buddies, as the presence of a tiny, defenseless baby immediately breaks down barriers.
The study, which is due to be published in the journal Animal Behavior, is also the first to demonstrate that infants can serve as social tools for some primates, writes Discovery News.
“Be a bunny!” That was the essence of the message coming from the South Korean Department of Health this week.
Faced with an incredibly low birth rate–lower even than that of Japan–the government has now stepped in to force its employees to make more babies. They hope to do it with a flick of the switch.
The BBC reports:
At 1900 on Wednesday, officials at the Ministry of Health will turn off all the lights in the building. They want to encourage staff to go home to their families and, well, make bigger ones. They plan to repeat the experiment every month.
A woman in Arkansas is pregnant with two babies at the same time…except they aren’t twins. ABC News reports:
Doctors successfully located Todd and Julia Grovenburg’s growing baby girl Jillian, but then discovered another smaller baby — what could be Jillian’s younger brother — growing beside her.
The Grovenburgs may have conceived their son Hudson a full two-and-a-half weeks after Jillian, according to statements given to KFSM-TV in Ft. Smith-Fayetteville, Ark.
There’s even a name for what happened: superfetation, or conceiving while pregnant. Unsurprisingly, it’s extraordinarily rare—one doctor said she could only track down 10 reported cases.
Granted, there’s a big problem—what happens to the younger baby when the older fetus is born?
“It [the second conception] can happen up to 24 days later than the first conception, and then you’re putting the second baby at risk for lung development problems,” said [OB-GYN Karen Boyle].
However, in the Grovenburg’s case, Boyle said the difference of two weeks would not put the younger baby at much of a risk for health problems.
Talk about dodging a bullet—though birthdays in the Grovenburg household should be interesting.
Discoblog: Girl or Boy? At-Home Test Reveals Baby’s Gender During Pregnancy
Discoblog: When Technology Gets Creepy: Giving Birth in Second Life
Discoblog: Pregnant Woman Discovers She Has an Extra Womb
Could milk from mice be the next key ingredient in infant formula? Perhaps…if researchers can find an efficient way to milk them, that is.
Mouse milk naturally has a higher concentration of proteins than the human stuff, so when the mice began producing human milk protein, they made a lot of it. In fact, the fuzzy creatures produced up to six ounces of lactoferrin per quart of milk, as opposed to the measly four to five grams per quart pumped out by humans. The lactoferrin in breast milk is important because it shields babies from infection as their immune systems form.
Mass production of human milk protein could allow the substance to be used in synthetic infant formula. Today, formula is largely made up of protein from soybeans or cow’s milk, and although the subject remains controversial, some experts say it does not provide babies with the same health benefits of human milk.
Despite the fact that they were born at the same time to the same mother, Justin and Jordan look nothing like twins, besides having the same skin color. In fact, they look so different that James Harrison, the supposed father, decided to request a paternity test. Turns out, his instincts were right: One of the infants is his child, and the other is not.
Mia Washington, the mother of the “twins,” admitted to cheating on Harrison, her fiancé, prior to becoming pregnant. But she didn’t have any idea the pregnancy was a result of two separate sets of sperm.
Biologically speaking, this can happen when two or more eggs from the same woman are fertilized during the same ovulation period by two different men. When this rare event occurs, it is called heteropaternal superfecundation—and we really mean rare: There have only been about 10 other cases of this, according to the president of Clear Diagnostics’ DNA lab, Genny Thibodeaux. And in those cases, it was more obvious because the children were of different ethnic backgrounds.
Maggie is ten months old and weighs ten pounds, six ounces—a full seven pounds less than the expected weight for her age. Despite being on a feeding tube that gives her plenty of calories, she is literally growing smaller, and doctors have no idea why.
A U.S. fertility doctor has claimed that he can clone human embryos—and plant them inside the wombs of women who want cloned babies.
So far, none of his implantations have led to successful pregnancies, but Panayiotis Zavos is certain that the first cloned baby is not far off. Britain’s The Independent, a less-than-the-most-reliable source for science news, reports that Zavos can be seen here creating human embryos before injecting them into the the womb.
Zavos says he has transferred 11 of a total of 14 cloned embryos to the wombs of female patients, and that this is only the “first chapter” in his research—which he is confident will eventually produce successful results.
“I may not be the one that does it, but the cloned child is coming. There is absolutely no way that it will not happen,” Zavos told The Independent. He isn’t sure whether the research can be expedited to produce a cloned baby within a year or two. But then again, rushing it would emphasize the wrong priority: “We’re not really under pressure to deliver a cloned baby to this world. What we are under pressure to do is to deliver a cloned baby that is a healthy one.”
The CB2 baby robot has begun to grow up, and can now learn like a toddler. The two-year-old, four-foot-tall, 73-pound robot is now interacting with humans and “developing social skills,” just as its creators at Osaka University hoped it would.
Engineering professor Minoru Asada was interested in child development, so in 2007 he created a robot with a Biomimetic Body—a flexible and true-to-life machine built to act and learn like a child—so it can respond to humans in a way similar to how a baby reacts to its mother.
To make CB2 as human as possible, researchers built it with sensors and cameras to help it perceive the world, and gave it enough smarts to recognize emotion in others. Already, the robot has learned to walk, taking small strides as air pressure powers its 51 “muscles” into motion.
At 14 months old and only seven pounds, seven ounces, Suraya Brown has doctors all over England baffled. She weighs barely more than an average newborn, and seems to have stopped growing entirely. At her age, she should have an approximate weight of 22 pounds and height of 30 inches, but instead she measures 19 inches—and doctors can’t seem to figure out why.
Suraya was born four weeks early and underweight, at just over 2.5 pounds. But nine out of ten babies born under similar circumstances will start to grow and gain weight immediately, according to doctors. Suraya, however, gained no weight during her first eight months of life, and in the last six she’s grown to just two ounces more than the birth weight of her sister, who is one year older and in good health.