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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Baa, Baa Mama! Goats Remember Their Babies' Cries

• http://www.livescience.com, Stephanie Pappas
The study is one of the few to test whether the mother-child bond in animals lasts after the first period of dependence ends. It seems that goats, at least, remember their family ties long-term.
 
"They still react more to the calls of the kid from a previous year than to the calls of familiar kids born to other females" a year after weaning, said study researcher Elodie Briefer, a postdoctoral researcher at Queen Mary, University of London. "That means they have a long-term memory of the calls of their kids." 
 
Plenty of mammal mamas are known to recognize their babies during the post-birth and nursing periods, but it's tough to follow pairs of animals over time to see whether those bonds last. A few researchers have followed mother-baby pairs of some seal species, finding that both moms and pups remember each other's voices for years after weaning. Tamarin monkeys recognize their relatives even after four years of separation.

While goats can probably also use markings and scent to recognize each other, there is plenty of evidence that their voices are also important. Baby goats seem to pick up distinctive "accents" from their herdmates, research has found. And Briefer and her colleagues have found that mother goats know their babies' cries as early as one week after birth.

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