Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wied's Marmoset

Callithrix kuhlii
Wied's Marmoset is a small New World Monkey that lives in a small little pocket of forest near the Brazilian Atlantic Coast.

The social structure of the Wied's Marmoset is rather interesting. They live in a polyandrous society led by a dominant female. This female is often the only one who mates, and she will typically mate with multiple males.

Another, even more interesting fact about these Monkeys is that they commonly exhibit Chimerism. Wied's Marmosets typically give birth to twins, and while in utero the cell lines of the twins can be exchanged, leaving the offspring with their own genotype, and also the genotype of their sibling. Because the society is polyandrous, two zygotes could be fertilized by two different males... which means a Wied's Marmoset can have genetic information from two different fathers. Also astounding is the fact that a male could pass on his secondary cell line, rather than his primary. This would result in offspring that are more closely related to their uncle than to their own father!

The result of the Chimerism is a society that is invested in raising the offspring as a group, as one can never know for sure whose genetic information can be found in with offspring!

The species is currently listed as Near Threatened, and the wild population is on the decline. This is due to habitat loss (for farming purposes) and hunting for the pet trade. Many of the Marmosets now live within the confines of wildlife refuges and national reserves, and they are listed in CITES II.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : Brazil
Size : Body Length up to 28in (70cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Primates
Family : Callitrichidae -- Genus : Callithrix -- Species : C. kuhlii

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