Predators such as leopards and cheetahs are not the biggest mortal threat to baby Chacma baboons, large and aggressive monkeys that live across southern Africa. That threat comes from adult males of their own species.

"Up to 50 percent of the infants might be killed by males in these populations, a massive impact more important than disease or predation," University of Cambridge behavioral ecologist Dieter Lukas said.

This behavior is not limited to these baboons. Scientists on Thursday unveiled the most detailed study to date of infanticide by adult males among the world's mammals, a practice documented in numerous species including many primates.