Here's a look at some of the critters that take
part in parenting in extraordinary ways.
Catfish. A father sea catfish keeps
the eggs of his young in his mouth until they are
ready to hatch. He will not eat until his young are
born, which may take several weeks.
Cockroach. A father cockroach eats
bird droppings to obtain precious nitrogen, which
he carries back to feed to his young.
Marmosets are tiny South American
monkeys. The fathers take care of their babies from
birth. When the marmoset is born, the father cleans
it, then carries it to the mother only when it
needs to be nursed. When the baby can eat solid
food, the father will feed it.
Rheas are large South American Birds
similar to ostriches. Father rhea takes sole care
of his young. From eggs to chicks, he feeds,
defends, and protects them until they are old
enough to survive on their own.
Sandgrouse. A father Namaqua
sandgrouse of Africa's Kalahari Desert flies as far
as 50 miles a day in order to soak himself in water
and return to his nest, where his chicks can drink
from his feathers!
Wolf. When the mother wolf gives birth to
pups, the father stands guard outside their den and
brings food to the mother and pups. As they grow,
he not only plays with them but also teaches them
how to survive. Wolves continue to live together
much as human families do.
Frog. The male Darwin frog hatches his
eggs in a pouch in his mouth. He can eat and
continue about his business until his tadpoles lose
their tails, become tiny frogs, and jump out of his
Emperor Penguin. A penguin pop balances
the mother's egg on the feet. He uses his skin and
feathers to protect the egg from a bitter Antarctic
cold. Dad goes this for nine weeks - without eating
- until the egg is ready to hatch.
Sea Horse. A female sea horse lays her
eggs in a pouch located in the front of the male's
stomach. The daddy sea horse carries the eggs until
they hatch. When the babies are big enough, they
Baboons. At the foot of Mount
Kilimanjaro, in Kenya, wild savanna baboons spend
their days lounging next to elephants, antelopes
and buffalos. Mother baboons groom their babies and
But baboon moms aren't on the job alone.
Scientists recently made the surprising
announcement that many baboon dads also recognize
and care for their young. Researchers had assumed
that male baboons didn't know which babies were
theirs because the males live in groups and have
several partners. A three-year study shows that
baboon dads recognize, and often protect,t their
offspring. By using samples of DNA, the chemical
that genes are made of, scientists matched 75
baboon babies with their fathers. Half the dads
that were observed stuck around and played Mr. Mom
until their babies reached age 3.
With their sharp teeth, male baboons are
"designed to be dangerous," says Joan Silk, a
professor who worked on the study. "But they can be
sweet with infants." What's more, the
researchers found that dads don't monkey around
about defending their own. They rush to protect
their offspring in fights more often than they help
other baboon babies.
"Life is pretty tough for young
baboons," says Jason Buchan, who was also
involved in the study. When the fathers are on the
scene, it decreases the babies' chances of getting
hurt. The scientists believe some of the ways the
male baboons identify their young are by appearance
and smell. Silk is thrilled that animal dads show
similarities to human dads. Says Silk: "It's
always fun to find out that animals are smarter
than you thought!"
for Kids Almanac
Related Topics: Fathers,
& Daughters, Fathers
& Sons, Parenting
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