"Even the most devoted mothers may sometimes eat their young. Laurence Culot described a rare instance of maternal cannibalism in moustached tamarins in the wild in Peru. Culot and his colleagues watched as a mother tamarin foraged for fruit with her adult daughter and infant son. Suddenly, the mother bit through her baby’s skull and ate out its brain. Once the mother had eaten the entire head, her adult daughter feasted on the carcass. The researchers suggest that the grisly act may have occurred to benefit the adult daughter, who was pregnant at the time. Sacrificing her own infant may have given her daughter’s offspring a better chance at survival."
—From “Animal Cannibalism: Who Does It and Why,” Mary Bates’ Wired story on the evolutionary benefits and ecological pressures that can lead to animals dining on their own kind
onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Deforestation and hunting have many of our closest cousins swinging toward extinction.