'Monogamous' Gibbons Really Swing

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Science  01 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5364, pp. 677-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5364.677b

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SALT LAKE CITY-- Gibbons have been thought to live in stable groups of five or six, in which a mom and pop mate for life and raise their offspring. But last month at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists here, researchers presented results showing that although many gibbon pairs mate for years on end, like human families of the '90s they have plenty of drama--infidelity, divorce, abandonment, and step-children from other unions, as well as much socializing and kinship among members of different groups. The findings show how important it is to explore what "monogamy" means for primates, and underscore the social complexity of these intelligent animals.