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When females of related mango groups are born, they all do so at the same time in the underground cave. The interesting result is that none of the parents knows which pups belong to them.

This creates a just society based on what researchers call a “veil of ignorance,” says a new study. In this case, it means that they care for the children based on which children need it the most, not on who is connected to them.

To test this theory, the researchers gave half of the pregnant mothers extra food in the wild mongoose group so that their offspring would be larger than those born to other mothers.

“To create an imbalance, we fed 50 grams of eggs a day to half of pregnant women (an increase of about 33% in their daily energy intake) and left the other half of pregnant women unacceptable,” said Harry Marshall of the University. Rohampton from the United Kingdom tells Treehugger:

“When the puppies were born and moved with the group, the women we fed during pregnancy focused most of their care on the puppies of vulnerable mothers. “These pups of vulnerable mothers were smaller than the pups of initially fed mothers, but the extra care they received meant that they would reach the end of the care period.”

This is very different from nature, where most mothers and fathers prefer their own young.

“In some social types, the generation will be saved by adults who are not their parents. These are known as cooperative breeders. However, in these types of co-breeding, it usually happens that there is only one dominant breed բոլոր all the other members of the group play as helpers, ”Michael Kant, senior author at the University of Exeter in the UK, told Treehugger.

“This helping behavior is not selfless,” he says. Assistants bring benefits in person because they are somehow connected to the newborns or are able to stay in the group until they are able to raise them.

“Similarly, our study shows that breastfeeding mothers who are caring for vulnerable mothers are not selfless, but the best strategy to increase their own personal achievements. “Because they do not know whose kitten they are, so they take care of the smaller kittens if they are their own.”

Understanding synchronized birth

Harry Marshall

Earlier in the study, researchers found that there was a reason that a group of pregnant women almost always gave birth on the same night.

“Previous work on the population of our study (The Banded Mongoose Research Project) has shown that when females do not give birth as synchronously, the resulting litter is much more likely to not be disposed of,” says Marshall.

In particular, some previous work by Kant has shown that older, dominant women control birth time.

“The reason for this synchronicity is that if the female gives birth early, other women will know that the cubs are not theirs (because they are still pregnant). “These pregnant women will then try to kill the newborns, as they would compete with their unborn babies,” Kant said.

However, if females give birth too late, their puppies are less developed than their old litter boxes; Within 30 days. As a result, it is neither early nor late to promote extreme synchronicity, where all females give birth on the same night. ”

The advantages of impartiality

For a new study, researchers in Uganda studied seven groups of mongooses. They predicted that this “veil of ignorance” would force new mothers to provide extra care to the babies they needed most.

And that’s what they found. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications.

“We were really pleased that our data, our theoretical model, fits in well with how parental care should be distributed to parents under that veil of ignorance,” Marshall said.

“However, we could equally imagine that it would go differently. So that puppies with the best start in life start to get more care by increasing the initial weight discrepancies. The fact that we have found the opposite confirms that the veil exists. This is the only reason why females will provide additional assistance to those most in need. ”

This impartiality helps to equalize these initial size discrepancies; it equates the survival of the pups to the possibility of adulthood. This benefits all the cubs, including their family.

“This shows for the first time that the veil of ignorance works in much the same way to achieve justice in both human and non-human animal society,” says Kant. “It affirms that the agents behind the veil of ignorance make decisions for the good of society, because being a member of this society, those decisions benefit them personally.”

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