Infanticide (zoology)

Lion cubs may be killed by males replacing other males in the pride.[1]

In animals, infanticide involves the intentional killing of young offspring by a mature animal of the same species.[2] Animal infanticide is studied in zoology, specifically in the field of ethology. Ovicide is the analogous destruction of eggs. The practice has been observed in many species throughout the animal kingdom, especially primates (primate infanticide) but including microscopic rotifers, insects, fish, amphibians, birds and mammals.[3] Infanticide can be practiced by both males and females.[4]

Infanticide caused by sexual conflict has the general theme of the killer (often male) becoming the new sexual partner of the victim's parent, which would otherwise be unavailable.[5] This represents a gain in fitness by the killer, and a loss in fitness by the parents of the offspring killed. This is a type of evolutionary struggle between the two sexes, in which the victim sex may have counter-adaptations that reduce the success of this practice.[5] It may also occur for other reasons, such as the struggle for food between females. In this case individuals may even kill closely related offspring.

Filial infanticide occurs when a parent kills its own offspring. This sometimes involves consumption of the young themselves, which is termed filial cannibalism. The behavior is widespread in fishes, and is seen in terrestrial animals as well. Human infanticide has been recorded in almost every culture. A unique aspect of human infanticide is sex-selective infanticide.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Pusey was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Logos, Aleksandar A. (2022). "Jasenovac in Croatia or a short story about a war and mass killing in it". p. 10. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  3. ^ Hoogland, J. L. (1985). "Infanticide in prairie dogs: Lactating females kill offspring of close kin". Science. 230 (4729): 1037–1040. Bibcode:1985Sci...230.1037H. doi:10.1126/science.230.4729.1037. PMID 17814930. S2CID 23653101.
  4. ^ Logos, Aleksandar A. (2022). "Jasenovac in Croatia or a short story about a war and mass killing in it". pp. 10 and note 28. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  5. ^ a b Palombit, Ryne A. (2015-06-01). "Infanticide as Sexual Conflict: Coevolution of Male Strategies and Female Counterstrategies". Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. 7 (6): a017640. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a017640. ISSN 1943-0264. PMC 4448612. PMID 25986557.

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