Infant killing, wounding and predation in Eulemur and Lemur

A. Jolly, S. Caless, S. Cavigelli, L. Gould, M. E. Pereira, A. Pitts, R. E. Pride, H. D. Rabenandrasana, J. D. Walker, T. Zafison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Infant killing by primates is highly controversial. Sexual selection of infanticidal males has been disputed, especially for seasonally breeding species, in which death of an infant does not advance conception of the next infant. We report attacks, infants found wounded, and predation in seasonally breeding Eulemur and Lemur at Berenty, Beza Mahafaly and Duke University Primate Center, and review cases seen elsewhere. Observed attacks leading to wounds or death conservatively total twelve by extratroop males, two by troop males, and seven by troop females. Eulemur are occasional vertebrate predators, whose prey includes infant Lemur catta. Wounds inflicted by lemurs are usually abdominal canine slashes or bites to the head, with rare eating, a pattern distinct from carnivore and raptor kills. Infant killing as inferred from corpses is more frequent than previously thought, but still rare. Adaptive advantages of killing plausibly include eliminating resource competitors of females, and sexual selection on males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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