Monday, April 6, 2009

When Animal Mothers Suck (Part 1)

It's assumed that in the animal kingdom, the mothers are the nurturers, the lovers, the selfless general, the all around greater sex. Females are associated with home and family, life and perhaps love.
There are classic examples of motherhood at its finest within the mammalian community. The mammal mother is warm and thoughtful, who loves her progeny but is sure to teach and discipline when needed.
The only job of the male is to produce something shiny and distracting in hopes of getting a mate to be the mother of his shiny offspring.
And for the most part, the father is off with a sweet new thing when the deed is done, right? Yes...for the most part. However, there are some outstanding fathers out there who think not of themselves first or their penis, but their future little ones.
The first of which is the Antechinus.
Well actually...this dude does think with his penis, but he does have the best intentions for furthering his gene pool. These little marsupials live in Australia and New Guinea and only live long enough to breed once. That's why the male needs to do it to it as much and as long as marsupially possible. He will go from one female to the next and so on in a single night, eventually becoming so exhausted, his immune system does not function properly and he dies. Essentially, the Antechinus sacrifices himself (and the hope of possibly more sex in the future) for his offspring. And with most of the females of this species eating their young, you gotta spread your seed around to make sure it reaches one good mother out there, right?
Next is the Marmoset. Cute little guys.
Marmosets are the smallest primates in the world and live in South America. The dads of these species get an A because when tiny mother is done nursing the twins, dad steps up and does the raising. He cleans them and looks after them, carrying them only back to mom when they need a boob. And when the babies start to eat solid food, dad makes sure they get plenty of it. Meanwhile, the mom's out having a good time with the neighbor. What a stand up guy!
Then there is the Jacana.

This guy does everything! First, he builds the nest. Then when a female comes around and he's lucky enough to reel her in, they will mate, she will lay the eggs, and then she will leave. Off to get some action from another male, the mom Jacana has no further interest in her brood. That's when dad comes into play. Despite abandonement by his former flame, the male Jacana will incubate the eggs and protect them from danger (including the mom). Since the nests are built on marshy vegetation, they tend to sink. If this happens, the male Jacana will simply carry each egg under his wing to a more suitable site. If the eggs are lost, mom will return and try again with her baby's daddy, lay her eggs, and then promptly leave him again. And when the eggs finally hatch (they might not even be his biological offspring), father takes them all out for swimming and eating lessons...he'll also still tuck them under his wings if that crazy bitch of a mother ever rears her ugly head again!

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