Sunday, July 22, 2012


I remember learning in school that gibbons mated for life. Observing the human divorce rate, one had to wonder if these creatures couldn’t offer some pointers for marital longevity.

In the nineties, however, new research suggested that gibbons were not nearly as monogamous as research had led us to believe. Why the discrepancy? It turns out that the presence of the researchers had an unexpected effect. Researchers picked a family group of gibbons and spent time watching their interactions. Gibbons, who weren’t being observed, tended to shy away from the observed group, leaving researchers with the impression of lifelong mates. The researchers own cultural bias then led them to infer a monogamous relationship.

While gibbon pairs may remain in close physical proximity for most of their lives, it is now recognized that their relationships may mimic the fidelity issues that plague many human partners. Mating for life is still observed in some other creatures. Birds seem to lead the pack and include the bald eagle, swan, black vulture and dove. Others include the wolf, angelfish and termite.

Termite? Wonder who would want to spend time observing them!

 Thanks to Toronto Family Lawyers for sponsoring this post. Humans facing divorce or custody issues should check them out.

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