Synchronize or Slaughter: The Harsh Birth Rules of the Banded Mongoose

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Cant and his team discovered that banded mongooses have a very peculiar reproductive system, in which the females will give birth to a communal litter, usually on the same day.

When females do give birth on different days, the pups born earliest almost always die within the first few days. Turns out, the other females will slaughter the first-born pups.

The researchers hypothesized that the females synchronize their births to escape from this threat of infanticide. “Only when the females can be certain that the litter does not contain any of her pups will they kill the litter,” Cant explained.

So, being enterprising scientists, they used hormone injections on selected females. In the first attempt, only the dominant females were allowed to successfully breed – not surprisingly, all of their litters survived. On the second attempt the researchers attempted the opposite with the subordinate females…with, shall we say, uglier results. Meaning, slaughter.

Researchers Hodge SJ, Bell MB and Michael Cant on PubMed via io9.

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About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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