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But how could they survive?

  1. Oct 24, 2003 #1
    I'm confused about something. I've known that many species have the characteristic that the males try to eat the young for some time now. I even understand how this may have evolved, and it doesn't seem unlikely. But, what I just can't get is, how did these species survive? For that matter, how does this tendency survive, since the tendency is a self-destructive one (on the level of species obviously, not on the level of individuals)?

    Any help is appreciated.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2003 #2

    Njorl

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    It helps prevent over harvesting of resources. If an ecosystem can support some number of bears, a female can relocate her cubs to an area that has no large males. If the number of bears has reached the limit, the cubs will die, either kille dby a large male, or by starvation because they are driven out of the habitable area. If this tendancy did not exist, the bears might over hunt their prey, causing drastic reduction of their prey population for the next season.

    In short, the behavior mollifies the boom and bust cycle possibilities of overpopulation and overharvesting.

    Njorl
     
  4. Oct 24, 2003 #3
    See, now why hadn't I thought of that? I thought the answer would be something like that, but it now seems so simple that I really should have thought of it.

    Thanks, njorl.
     
  5. Oct 24, 2003 #4
    It also depends on the species. Male lions will kill lion cubs that are not his offspring in order to insure that more of his genes continue instead of some other males. Other animals, like seahorses, probably reproduce in such large numbers that eating a few for nutritional value probably won't hurt his chances of spreading on his genes, I'd imagine.
     
  6. Oct 24, 2003 #5
    LOL

    Good point about the continuation of your own genes, btw.
     
  7. Oct 24, 2003 #6

    Monique

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    But this behaviour has also been seen in highly social animals such as the apes, I find that strange. But I guess the previous two comments make good sense overall.
     
  8. Oct 24, 2003 #7

    Njorl

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    I remember Jane Goodall among the chimpanzees. Two of them took to eating the babies of other females. At this point she wished she had kept more distant and clinical.

    It gave me the willies.

    I imagine there are a few different benefits, evolutionarily speaking for this type of behavior. I don't think any of them would hold up in court though, just in case you're getting any ideas Mentat. :wink:

    Njorl
     
  9. Oct 24, 2003 #8

    Monique

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    It gave you the willies [?]
     
  10. Oct 24, 2003 #9

    Njorl

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    Seeing one chimp eat another chimp's baby gave me an uneasy feeling. Their similarity to humans makes their behavior hit home a bit more than other animal's behavior.

    Have you never heard the phrase, "gave me the willies"? It means, roughly the same as creeped me out, or gave me the creeps.

    I suppose if you learned English from English people, "gave me the willies" would have a rather different meaning. I assure you, in that sense, the only "willie" I've been given is the one I was born with.

    Njorl
     
  11. Oct 25, 2003 #10
    Ha ha.
     
  12. Oct 26, 2003 #11
    Alright, way off topic, but...

    Once on the discovery channel they had 2 older lions which were defending their pride against 3 younger brothers in their prime and they fought to near death. The 2 older ones were injured and eventually died, but they killed one of the brothers. It was the coolest!
     
  13. Oct 27, 2003 #12

    Another God

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    I think it is with chimpanzees (but I could be wrong...its some species or another) that the females come into heat depending on whether they are rearing young or not. When a new male enters the Alpha Male position they often go and kill all of the baby young so that they can mate with all the females sooner (rather than waiting for the now young chimps to be raised before they have their turn)
     
  14. Oct 27, 2003 #13

    Phobos

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    Putting aside cannibalism for a moment, there is infanticide in general. And good ol' H. sapiens are not excluded from that group. And this includes not only other people's offspring (wars/whatever), but also within one's own family (ritual sacrifices, male-preferring societies, abandonment, and...if we dare get into this debate...abortion).

    As long as these behaviors are in the minority, then the species can still survive.
     
  15. Oct 28, 2003 #14
    You make a very good point Phobos. I hadn't thought of the ways that man commits this same act. Thanks for that.
     
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