Friday, 31 August 2012

Male Snails Babysit for Other Dads: Family Secrets of Marine Whelk Solenosteira Macrospira

ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2012) — Pity the male of the marine whelk, Solenosteira macrospira. He does all the work of raising the young, from egg-laying to hatching -- even though few of the baby snails are his own.
The surprising new finding by researchers at the University of California, Davis, puts S. macrospirain a small club of reproductive outliers characterized by male-only child care. Throw in extensive promiscuity and sibling cannibalism, and the species has one of the most extreme life histories in the animal kingdom.

The family secrets of the snail, which lives in tidal mudflats off Baja California, are reported online in a study in the journal Ecology Letters.

In the study, UC Davis researchers report that, on average, only one in four of the hundreds of eggs that a male S. macrospira carries around on his back belong to him. Some carry the offspring of as many as 25 other males.

Such extreme cases provide the raw material on which natural selection can work and shed light on more "mainstream" species, said study author Rick Grosberg, a professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis.

Continued: 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120828163036.htm 

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