Your Friday Fact: The Many Husbands of the Emperor Tamarin


How I love a good David Attenborough nature video. The Life of Mammals is my most recent pleasure, and from it I get this week’s Friday Fact:

The female Emperor Tamarin lives with a “harem” (Attenborough’s word) of two or more males.

(mother and baby tamarin)

As she must provide milk for her babies, usually twins, she has to eat a lot. This is harder to do with babies clinging to her.

So when she is ready to forage for food, she signals the males of the group by sticking out her tongue. At this sign they flock over and remove the babies who cling to her.

The males care for the babies until the mother returns.

As the female has mated with all members of her harem, the males are all genetically invested in the offspring. They do not kill a competitor’s babies as do some species where males compete for females.

BTW the Emperor Tamarin is native to South America. It was named for its resemblance to Kaiser Wilhelm II, last German emperor and King of Prussia.


According to Wikipedia, the name was first intended as a joke but has become the official scientific name.

7 responses to “Your Friday Fact: The Many Husbands of the Emperor Tamarin

  1. Ha,ha,ha,ha…I love this, Jennifer! And I love the picture. She is one lucky lady. And I definitely can see the resemblance to the Kaiser Wilhelm II. Striking resemblance. Oh, we love David Attenborough, too. We are saving our nickels and dimes to buy The Life of Birds. So now I guess we’ll have to add The Life of Mammals to our wishlist. :)

  2. I love it when names of things make sense! It’s a small victory in my wanting always to know the “why” of things. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. So are they like the Mormons of the animal kingdom?

  4. From the midst of surreal-city, I cannot begin to tell you how much that made me laugh!

  5. LOLOLOL I was not thinking of a certain person and her situation, but in light of the life of a certain knitter, we here in America are CRACKING UP.

    Maybe my first nature screenplay will be about your home.

  6. And now you know to just stick out your tongue when you need help.

  7. You picked probably the ONLY photo of Kaiser Wilhelm II that doesn’t make it obvious why that animal would be named after him. Do an image search on Kaiser Wilhelm and you’ll get it.

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