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Keywords:

  • maturation of social and locomotor skills;
  • red panda;
  • golden lion tamarin;
  • wildebeest

Abstract

This model of growth offers a quantitative definition for altricial and precocial newborns, makes muscular strength a benchmark for locomotor independence, and discriminates related genera as well as genera across major taxonomic divides. The model contrasts four theoretical conditions of the neonate (I, small brain, weak musculature; II, small brain, strong musculature; III, large brain, weak musculature; IV, large brain, strong musculature) with species from three orders of placental mammal. Each species exhibits a distinct mother-infant strategy from the altricial red panda cub (condition I) and the golden lion tamarin (condition III) to the precocial wildebeest calf (condition IV). The model proposes that early growth rates of brain and muscle correlate with nutrition, maternal effort during gestation and lactation, and parental care, whereas postnatal muscular growth correlates directly with adult body size and locomotor repertoire. An example of condition II (small brain, strong musculature) has not been found. This suggests that muscle does not grow in advance of the brain and that the brain acts as a pacemaker of growth. In order to increase our understanding of exotic species, noninvasive measures (body weight and length) and observations (opening of the eyes and ears, hair density, weaning, and the abilities to ther-moregulate and to move) should be supplemented with analysis of the differential tissue and organ growth. In both theoretical and practical ways analysis of deceased individuals contributes to the understanding of all species.