Evolution should select for individuals that employ ways of discerning members of their own species from any others. Reproductive success of those engaing in sex with organisms of another species should therefore be drastically reduced. The “lock-and-key” hypothesis holds that there is only one specific key (male genitals) that fits inside a certain lock (female genitals). While this theory isn’t without its own controversies, there are many examples where it holds true.  In the case
I love seeing the nature photos you share with me, and thought it might be fun to run a photo contest! If this goes well it may be something we do a few times! For this contest, our category is “In The Snow.” Share your nature or animal photos taken in a winter wonderland! Submitted photos do not need to be recent captures. Photo via Adobe Stock How to Enter Submit your photos (please no
It is commonly accepted that elephants are extremely intelligent and curious animals, capable of complex social interactions. Photo via Adobe Stock Recorded events have clearly demonstrated that elephants are intensely curious of other elephant corpses at varying states of decay. Mourning has been observed in response to conspecific deaths (members of the same species), and it most often involves investigation of the corpse and a display of agitation and trumpeting. The specifics of a mother
Female birds can change egg contents based on social status, the qualities of dad, and in response to environmental factors. Photo via Adobe Stock For example, when population density is high and a female’s chicks are likely to experience a high level of competition, moms often provision their eggs with extra androgens or testosterone to ensure that their offspring will be able to hold their own. When predator levels are predictably high, moms can provision
Moms can employ a number of strategies to ensure that their young are adequately fed during their first few months of life. Many of these involve providing help to other moms by sharing in the lactational responsibilities. Termed “allonursing,” we know it as wet-nursing – the act of providing milk to newborns that are not one’s own. It is very common in the mammalian world. To date, allonursing has been observed in sixty-eight different species
In addition to manipulating their eggs based on the qualities of dad, bird moms can also alter egg allocation levels based on the social system. This is especially evident when the social system is one of cooperative breeding, or group-living species, in which one or a few dominant mating pairs produce most of the offspring. Photo via San Diego Zoo Cooperatively Breeding Species Non-mating adults remain with the group as “helpers” and do not generally
We’ve discussed how environmental cues can be just as important as direct sexual signals. What happens when the environment is altered in such a way that sexual signals take on a whole new meaning? Phosphate pollution in near shore areas of the Baltic Sea has caused eutrophication – massive overgrowth of filamentous algae – in areas that were once clear with high visibility. Photo via Adobe Stock These waters are prime breeding grounds for stickleback