They mooch, abandon, and kill. But it’s all in the name of survival.
In the wild, it doesn’t often pay to be nice.
Survival is of utmost importance, and wild animals have to look out for themselves and their young first.
But some species have more brash methods of survival than others.
Like humans, these birds are known for forming long-term partnerships.
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But they’re not always the most emotionally sensitive.
When female jackdaws are in distress, their male partners can sense it. But they often don’t console their partners and focus on protecting themselves instead.
Researchers documented this behavior in a study published Tuesday in Royal Society Open Science.
“The fitness costs of staying in a potentially dangerous location to console the female may outweigh any benefits gained through offering consolation.”
Hooper R. et al, study authors
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So, the male’s aloof behavior might be a survival tool, despite how insensitive it looks to us humans.
Life is scary out there for the mothers and babies.
Males eager to breed will sometimes kill babies that aren’t their own.
But a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals that mother bears might actually use humans to help protect their young.
It’s a gamble, but some mothers would rather their young be near predators than potential mates.
You might spot these birds in your neighborhood — they live just about everywhere in the U.S.
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But here’s something that may come as a surprise: they’re brood parasites.
When the hatchlings emerge, they remain in the nest and are fed by their new host parents.
Other birds, like cuckoos, also practice this type of parasitism.
When cubs are born, their mothers are pretty inattentive.
Mortality rates in the Serengeti are about 86 percent when cubs are below the age of two.
And when males are old enough to fend for themselves, they’re kicked out of the pack and left to become nomads.
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In this cat-eat-cat world, only the strongest survive.
They’re cute, cuddly ... and known for leaving their young to die.
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In the wild, pandas often have twins.
But they’re known to prioritize the healthier baby, while leaving the other to perish.
It’s likely a strategy for the mother to conserve resources and increase the chances that their young will survive to adulthood.
In 2018, researchers documented the first instance of a group of killer whales murdering a baby in an act of infanticide.
While it might seem brutal, this practice isn’t uncommon among wild animals.
Our primate cousins sometimes kill their young, as well.
They witnessed a gruesome event where a male chimp snatched a newborn baby from its mother and ate it in a tree.
This behavior fits into what Darwin first named the sexual selection hypothesis:
Animals will do anything to make sure their genes are passed on, instead of another’s.
Some of these behaviors go far outside what we humans would consider acceptable.
But maybe we’re the weird ones.
Read more stories about animals here.
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