Natures wonders: nursing spiders feed young (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, November 29, 2018, 22:21 (454 days ago) @ David Turell

Mammals are not the only nursing mothers:

"Jumping spider mothers provide milk to their spiderlings far into development, according to a new study that might turn your understanding of invertebrate parenting on its head.


"Then, they noticed that spiderlings didn’t leave the nest until they were around 21 days old, during which time the mother was never observed bringing back food while the young spiders grew larger.


"They looked more closely and noticed that the mother was secreting a liquid from its upper abdomen onto the surface of the nest, which the spiderlings ate. After a week, the spiderlings sucked the milk directly from the mother. Even though they were able to leave the nest and feed themselves after 20 days, they continued suckling the milk for another 18 days. If these were humans, they’d be featured on a cable TV program. Once the spiderlings matured, the mother attacked the males that returned while females were still allowed in, perhaps to prevent inbreeding, according to the study published today in Science.


"Scientists have observed other non-mammals producing milk-like secretions before, such as pigeons, cockroaches, and tsetse flies; earwigs also provide extended care to their young, said Joshua Benoit, also an assistant professor from the University of Cincinnati who was not involved with the study. He was impressed with and convinced by the research, but thought that maybe it’s time we rethink who we attribute nursing young to. After all, invertebrates make up over 95 percent of the Earth’s species.

“'Production of milk-like system may have evolved more times in invertebrate systems than in vertebrates,” said Benoit.


"The work serves as a reminder that mammals aren’t the only animals that care for their young, and others do so in ways that should be appreciated. Morehouse felt it was time to look for more examples of milk production in invertebrates. He said: “The take-home message for me is that this study punctures the specialness of mammals.'”

Comment: Just more evidence of convergence

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