May 13, 2009

Mothers pick up a chemical signal from their best offspring and give them more, at the expense of hungrier siblings.

Shocking parental favoritism... from earwigs.


ElcubanitoKC said...

Evolution at work.

Let's not antropomorphize everything.

Nature works as nature does.

We believe in evolution. Right, Jen?

The Elder said...

No wonder I'm taller than my brother! I was better fed. Mom clearly loved me more!

Next, we need to explain why I'm also better looking than he is.

This science stuff is great!

Ann Althouse said...

I love you, Elder, but I love your brother more.

Bruce Hayden said...

As noted, this isn't that different from the avian world, and, indeed, arguably, the mammalian world. In short, survival of the fittest. Yes, there is wastage, but that just ups the odds that the best genes win. And, in times of plenty, those spares can help build the species, but are sacrificed for the good of the genetic line in times of want.

The big question is whether humans do this too, at some level. I would argue yes, that mothers do discriminate between/among their young, esp. if they have a number of them. Much less so, of course, when there are only a couple over two or three decades.

traditionalguy said...

Dick Smothers was right all along.

chickenlittle said...

The news is the chemical mechanism.

Anybody who has ever bred dogs or cats or fostered a litter has seen this. It takes intervention to save the runt. I think farm people know this intuitively.

The Elder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Elder said...

"I love you, Elder, but I love your brother more."

Well, I have to admit that the adorableness gene was recessive in my case.

He's such a cute little guy!

Meade said...

"He's such a cute little guy!"

Yes, and now with 50% less odour than the favoured brother!

(The big earwig.)

(The one with the odd behaviour.)