ANY ANIMALS CELEBRATE FATHER'S DAY?
all species of animals have a mother or a father. A detached starfish
arm can grow into a complete starfish, and a chopped off piece of a
planarian flatworm can become a new individual. So a starfish or flatworm
may have no mother to honor on Mother's Day.
do the whiptail lizards of the Southwest do on Father's Day? In many
of these desert-dwelling lizards no males exist. In a complicated genetic
process, only female offspring are produced. Nonetheless, paternal care
is common among some species throughout much of the animal kingdom.
the bar for males who take care of their offspring. Some estimates are
that males in up to 90 percent of the more than 9,000 species of birds
assist in raising the young. Activities include nest building, incubating
the eggs and feeding the babies.
of some birds actually bring food to the nesting female. African hornbills
nest in tree cavities whereupon the male seals up the opening, creating
a protected chamber for the nesting mother, leaving only a small feeding
homebound mother unable to get out and forage, males earn Father's Day
recognition by continually bringing food to her during incubation.
to birds, few male fishes participate in rearing the young despite there
being more than three times as many fish species. But a few qualify
for father-of-the-year status. Mother seahorses apparently decide early
in the process that incubating eggs until they hatch should be the role
of the father.
courtship between the parents of these small marine fishes that look
like knights on a chessboard, the female deposits her eggs in a pouch
in the front of the male to be fertilized.
then flits around for up to a month with a pouch full of developing
sea colts. Father's Day cards would seem in order, which might number
more than 1,000, as that is how many eggs some seahorse mothers produce.
paternal care is also practiced by some jawfish and catfish in an equally
unusual manner. The yellowhead jawfish is a small coral reef fish. The
gafftopsail catfish is commonly caught by anglers along the southern
a father-take-charge task ahead of them. They are mouth brooders, which
means that after they fertilize the eggs they scoop them up and carry
them around in their mouths for days until they hatch. Some continue
to carry the fry, which eventually swim out of an opened mouth.
the 7,500 kinds of amphibians show any kind of paternal care, but those
that do are exemplary. After mating, the male of a species known as
Darwin's frog of Chile swallows the developing eggs that the female
has laid on the ground litter and carries them around in his vocal sac
for more than a month.
nature's spectacles is froglets hopping from the open mouth of a male
Darwin's frog. Other noteworthy amphibians with Father's Day creds are
hellbenders, the giant salamanders that live in mountain streams and
rivers from Alabama to New York.
prepare a nest under a big rock for the female to lay eggs. The mother
leaves, but the dutiful father stays around, defending the eggs until
they hatch into larvae.
species get no recognition on Mother's or Father's Day because with
few exceptions once the babies are born they are on their own. Lizard,
snake and turtle dads are not a praiseworthy example of caring fathers.
mothers are the consummate caregivers, but the fathers do not seem to
get involved. However, I have watched babies sit on the snout of their
13-foot-long father who never tried to eat them.
that could be viewed as some level of paternal care. Or maybe he didn't
want to risk that the highly protective mother 10 feet away might display
her maternal instincts.
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