Animal infanticide. Why some animals kill the offspring

Although we may find this behavior barbaric, we must try to avoid its humanization. It consists of the killing of the young offspring by a mature adult of the same species. It is a frequent behavior in the animal kingdom and it can be maternal or paternal, occur within or outside the family and take place with or without cannibalism.

  • WHY DOES IT HAPPEN? According to several studies, the male manages to advance the fertility of the females when they lose their offspring, thus increasing the male’s chances of having offspring with them. It’s therefore an adaptive behaviour. In some species it is carried out by the mothers, who would use the nests of the offspring they attack for their own offspring. This type of behavior only occurs in species where females can reproduce all year round, but not in those where the reproductive cycle is seasonal. In addition, it usually occurs where a few males tend to reproduce with multiple females.

lions-animal infanticide-offspring murders - zoology-adaptation-chimpanzees-primates-biology-evolution
Examples of species where infanticide occurs (lions, chimpanzees, chacma baboons and rats). Listverse, Florida feeder rodents
  • CAN IT BE AVOIDED? It has been suggested that the only possible way to avoid infanticide would be polyandry, that is, one female mating with several males. In this way, the males would not be able to distinguish between their offspring and those that are not, and would not risk killing them.

  • Perhaps the best known case is that of lions, but it occurs in many other species: in various primates, such as chimpanzees and chacma baboons; in rodents such as rats; in sea otters, in bears, in bottlenose dolphins, hippopotamus and some birds such as the white guillemot.

lions-animal infanticide-offspring murders - zoology-adaptation-chimpanzees-primates-biology-evolution
Examples of species where infanticide occurs (white guillemot, bottlenose dolphins, bears and sea otters). Listverse

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