Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Infanticide

Killing of infants, usually by adults. In primates and other mammals this is usually associated with one-male units in which the male has been displaced, followed by the destruction of his unweaned offspring by the usurper. The explanation is that lactating females do not come into estrus until their offspring cease suckling; by killing unweaned offspring, the usurper male enables the females to come into estrus earlier, and is able to father more offspring and reproduce his alleles. In primates, infanticide has been documented in langurs and other species with polygynous mating systems.

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