Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Beetles eat greedy offspring Edinburgh University research finds

Burying beetles occasionally punish young who nag for food by eating those who pester them most, according to Edinburgh University research.

It encourages the larvae to plead more honestly according to how hungry they are and not try to outdo their siblings by pestering their mother for food.

It also helps the mother beetle to maintain a degree of control over how she feeds her squabbling offspring.

Cannibalism is also used by parents when food is in short supply.

Burying beetle larvae pester for food by touching the parent's mouths with their legs. Parent beetles then feed their young by regurgitating pre-digested flesh.

The Edinburgh University team gave mothers large foster families to find out if they were more likely to cannibalise offspring that begged most for food.

Researchers also examined whether mothers could control how food was shared between older and younger offspring.

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