Humans are not alone in having infants that emerge facing backwards.

Joseph Milton


chimpsChimps and humans have much in common, inlcuding the way they give birth.Georgios Kefalas / Keystone / AP Photo

A key feature of human childbirth, long thought to be unique to Homo sapiens — the arrival of the baby facing backwards relative to its mother — has been observed in our closest living relatives, chimpanzees.

The discovery, reported today in Biology Letters1, calls into question the argument that backwards-facing babies were an important factor in the evolution of midwifery in humans. Rather than searching for assistance when they go into labour, pregnant chimps seek solitude.

“It’s clear from our observations that chimp babies are born facing backwards, but they give birth alone,” says lead author Satoshi Hirata, a behavioural biologist at the Great Ape Research Institute of Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratories in Tamano, Japan. “So the reverse orientation is clearly not a necessary condition for the evolution of midwifery.”



I now know why I never know if I am coming or going 🙂



9 responses to “Birth.

  1. I am wondering about it all these days.
    Wishing you a Happy Easter and be well my friend.


  2. Wonderful post…. Nature always seems to know best.. We mess with Natures timings and interfere far too much… I know my own daughter-in-law recently went through 49 hrs of pain… with forceps delivery after being induced way before her due date time.. The problem with our own Midwifery system.. is that its more about a production line… I personally went 11 days over my due dates and had no problems thankfully… Happy Easter too Kenny


    • Like Sarah (Ayrgael) say’s. ” the human compulsion for control” I understand that even Nature herself needs a little help sometimes. But I also think that Nature should be allowed to take it’s course in some cases. That said, I am most grateful for the surgeons at the Freemans hospital, for interfering with Nature and saving my life.
      Be very well Sue and enjoy the holiday weekend.


  3. my daughter just gave birth three months ago and her baby was positioned this way she had to have a section after hrs of agony its a wonder these monkeys dont die trying to give birth xxjen


    • I am sure Monkeys do die giving birth Jen, like any other animal including Humans. Giving birth is a beautiful beautiful thing. But fraught with danger. I am so pleased I am a man. Would hate to go through child birth.


  4. Hi Kenny, Fascinating article and wonderful comment! I appreciate what the author says at the end:
    [T]he study … certainly helps to quash the outmoded idea that humans are distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom. “In a broad sense I think humans tend to believe we are unique,” says Hirata, “but that belief is not based on facts.”
    I only wish that idea were outmoded. Best – Monica


    • Yes Monica. Man has refused to believe that he is nothing more than a beast . Seeing himself as some sort of unique intelligent being, above all other animals that walk this Earth. We are just another animal that makes up this Natural bowl of living soup.
      take care Monica.


  5. The ONLY way we ever go is forwards!

    I suspect midwifery has much more to do with the human compulsion for ‘control’ than the position of the baby.
    Lovely images as always xxxxx


    • Hi Sarah.
      “forwards” ?…you tell that to Mr Cameron and his side kick !
      I wonder how many babies have been born behind a bush, on the banks of the Amazon !
      Be well Sarah.


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