New York: Chimpanzees -- highly promiscuous species -- are good fathers and more devoted to protect their offspring than previously thought, a research has revealed.
The study led by researchers from the George Washington University showed that male chimpanzees spend time with non-mating female chimpanzees that are caring for their offspring.
They interact with their infants more than expected as well as spend time on grooming and caring them.
"This research suggests that male chimpanzees may sometimes prioritise relationships with their offspring rather than with potential mates," said Carson Murray, Assistant Professor at the George Washington University.
However, the chimpanzees spending time with nursing mothers did not increase the likelihood that they would be the father of that mother's next infant, the researchers said.
They said this finding is unexpected since the species is highly promiscuous and researchers previously questioned whether male chimpanzees could recognise their offspring.
For the study, the team examined patterns based on 17 father chimpanzees and 49 mother-infant pairs to see if the males could recognise their offspring and if the male's behaviour was different around them.
The results showed that the males associated with mothers of their offspring early in infancy and interacted with their infants more than expected.
The research was published in Royal Society Open Science.