Effect of infant pelage colour on infant caring by other group members: a case study of wild Javan lutungs (Trachypithecus auratus)

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  • 1 Department of Biology, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB University), Bogor, West Java, Indonesia
  • 2 Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Aichi, Japan
  • 3 Department of Biosciences, Ishinomaki Senshu University, Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan

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Abstract

We observed interactions of group members with seven Javan lutungs (Trachypithecus auratus) infants from January to March 2018. Infants’ pelage colouration changed from bright yellow to black, and it took about 2.9 months (on average) until the yellowness disappeared, and about 6.1 months (on average) until the colouration change was completed. Infants with yellow pelage spent more time being held and screaming, while infants with black pelage spent more time moving and feeding. The number of neighbouring animals decreased as the infants’ pelage became black, which implied that group members are attracted to the yellowness of infants. As the pelage became black and the infant aged, the neighbouring animals exhibited more social behaviour. Our results implied that bright yellow pelage colour triggers their parental instincts. The bright pelage colour would benefit infants because group members protect them from unfamiliar males and predators.

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