NPR

Orangutan Moms Are The Primate Champs Of Breast-Feeding

Orangutans breast-feed up to nine years, longer than any other primate. That may help offspring survive food shortages. But humans may have gained a survival advantage from weaning earlier.
An orangutan mother and her 11-month old infant in Borneo. Orangutans breast-feed offspring off and on for up to eight years. Source: Tim Laman/Science Advances

When it comes to breast-feeding, orangutans are the champs.

Past studies of orangutans in the wild have found that mothers nurse their offspring for up to seven years, longer than any other primate.

But a new study of orangutan teeth suggests even that estimate is low, a team reports Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

The study found evidence that during periods when fruit and

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min readPolitics
Hong Kong Executive Apologizes As Protests Continue Over Extradition Bill
Chief Executive Carrie Lam says her management of an extradition bill caused "disputes in society." Protesters say they want the bill scrapped and Lam to step down.
NPR2 min read
Opinion: Here's A Dad Joke! What Does The Buffalo Tell His Son In The Morning?
Corny "dad jokes" are an outgrowth of the deep and lifelong bond between parents and children.
NPR5 min readSociety
Pregnant, Locked Up, And Alone
Natalie Lynch spent the last two weeks of her pregnancy in a prison cell, mostly alone. As female incarceration rates rise, some states are banning solitary confinement of pregnant women.