Neonatal weight in gibbons (Hylobates spp.)


  • Thomas Geissmann,

    Corresponding author
    1. Anthropological Institute, Zürich University, Zürich, Switzerland
    • Anthropological Institute, University Zürich-Irchel, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Mathias Orgeldinger

    1. Zoological Garden Frankfurt/Main and Zoological Institute, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg, Germany
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Neonatal and birth weights of gibbons have mostly been reported for single individuals, and larger samples (n = 2–8) have apparently been published for only two species of gibbons (Hylobates lar and H. syndactylus). In addition, a critical examination of the few published neonatal weights of gibbons shows that several of them should not be used. Neonatal weights are here defined as weights taken on infants up to seven days old, whereas birth weights include only those taken on the day of birth. This paper presents neonatal weights for six representative species of gibbons (H. lar, H. leucogenys, H. moloch, H. muelleri, H. pileatus, H. syndactylus) and some of their hybrids. Most of our data stem from surviving animals that were subsequently hand-reared and include 80 infants, thus making the previously available dataset 5 times larger. Our neonatal weights fall roughly into three different classes: neonates of the lar group (about 390 g, n = 27), the concolor group (about 510 g, n = 7), and the siamang (about 540 g, n = 46). This grouping corresponds not only to taxonomic units within the hylobatids, but also to grouping of gibbons by adult body weight. No weight difference between males and females is evident in our sample, and hybrids of the lar group do not appear to differ in weight from pure species. True birth weights (i.e., weights recorded on the day of birth) are available for only a few individuals. These weights are, on average, 7% higher than neonatal weights, but the difference is not statistically significant. Additional samples of neonatal weights suggest that infants that die on the day of birth weigh, on average, 17% less, twins weigh 29% less, and infants born by Cesarean section weigh 19% more than our reference sample of neonates. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.