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Nature's 10 best animal dads

By: Bryan Nelson on June 15, 2011, 1:03 p.m.
Adult male marmoset with two babies on back

Photo: Paulo B. Chaves/Flickr

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Sure, the small and furry tree-dwelling primates known as marmosets are outrageously cute, but male marmosets take their roles as fathers very seriously. With the help of other family members, including older siblings, the typical marmoset dad grooms, feeds and give his infants piggyback rides while momma marmoset steps away and takes on a decidedly “disinterested” parenting role after a few weeks. Marmoset fathers will often act as attentive midwifes during the birth of their newborns, going as far to clean up the afterbirth and bite off the umbilical cord.

Jeff French, primatologist at the University of Nebraska Zoo, tells National Geographic that one reason the marmoset daddy is so involved is because of the tremendous physical strain put on the expectant mother. “It's like a 120-pound (55-kilogram) woman giving birth to a 30-pound (14-kilogram) baby,” explains French.