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Baboon Childhoods

April 26, 2016

Do baboons respond to trauma and stress in childhood the same way people do?



A baby baboon takes a ride atop its mother. (Noah Snyder-Mackler)


Baboon childhoods. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Children who experience adversity in early life have an increased risk of health problems and early death. And according to a study in the journal Nature  Communications, these effects may be deeply rooted in our evolutionary history as primates. Duke biologist Jenny Tung and her colleagues studied the lives of highly social baboons across several generations in Kenya.

JENNY TUNG (Duke University):

We found that baboons who experienced three or more sources of early adversity – being born to a low-ranking mother, losing their mother, being born to socially isolated moms, fbeing born in a drought – had lifespans that were actually about 10 years shorter than those baboons we talk about as “silver spoon” babies who had no sources of adversity.


The team is now studying whether supportive social relationships in the monkeys can lessen the effects of early adversity. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.


Baboons are a highly social species. (Courtney L. Fitzpatrick)