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The Ancient Art of Midwifery Practiced by Chinese Snub Nosed Monkeys

12 Feb

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]

Photo by Xi Xhinong

Photo by Xi Xhinong

The art of midwifery is ancient.  The lineage of women healers aiding childbearing mothers during pregnancy can be dated textually as far back as the Middle Kingdom period in ancient Egypt (and similarly in the Middle East and Greece). Archeological and anthropological evidence suggests it may very well date to the origins of our species.  It continues as a well respected profession practiced internationally today.

Its also not an exclusively human tradition. Recently, a team of zoologist observed the art of midwifery practiced by Chinese black snub nosed monkeys.

Its the first time biologists have actually ever seen these high-altitude monkeys labor and birth, because they usually do so in forest canopy at night and in under 15 minutes.

So imagine the surprise when Wen Xiao of Dali University in Yunnan and his colleagues stumbled upon a black snub nosed monkey mother in a rare day time birth aided but what appears to be a monkey midwife. Continue reading