Friday, November 20, 2009

Amazing animals-Best Animal dads

Made famous by the movie March of the Penguins, emperor penguin fathers endure below-freezing temperatures and forgo food to incubate their eggs.
After the female lays a single egg, her mate rests it on his feet and covers it with a flap of skin (above, a penguin protects its chick using the same skin flap).
"You could think of that pouch as almost a male womb, except they're birds," the University of Reading's Pagel said. "They're very much like seahorses in that respect: [They've] taken over a role rightly or wrongly we traditionally associate with females."
For four months the males huddle together, not moving much, while the females fill up on seafood in the ocean. The females eventually return to help feed the newly hatched chicks.

Father's Day, honors committed human dads. But seahorse fathers (above, a newborn hitches a ride on dad's tail) might just blow those proud papas out of the water.
Seahorses are a type of fish in which the males actually get "pregnant." The female seahorse deposits her eggs in the male's specialized pouch, and the male carries up to 2,000 babies during its 10- to 25-day pregnancy.

Male marmosets in South America not only carry, feed, and groom their twin babies (pictured, a baby black-tailed marmoset with its mother in a Tokyo zoo), they may even act as "midwives" during birth, grooming and licking the newborns.
Marmoset dads may be so involved because of the high cost of birth for the mother, whose unborn babies eventually make up 25 percent of her body weight—equal to a 120-pound (55-kilogram) woman giving birth to a 30-pound (14-kilogram) infant.
Though nature's default is female-only care, animal fathers such as marmosets will often pitch in when "kids are expensive," for instance, when raising offspring requires two full-time parents that are mated for life, the University of Winnipeg's Forbes said.

Talk about back-breaking work—the male giant water bug literally totes around his brood of about 150 eggs until they hatch.
After a courtship of sparring and grasping, these ferocious insects mate, and the females cement their fertilized eggs to the males' backs with a natural glue.
Over the next three weeks, the male becomes a "very effective dad," said Scott Forbes, a University of Winnipeg biologist and author of A Natural History of Families. The daddy water bug fiercely protects his eggs and periodically exposes them to air to prevent them from growing mold.

The barking frog named for its throaty, dog-like callguards his brood after the female lays her eggs under rocks or logs in the U.S. Southwest.
The frog hangs out by the eggs for several weeks, wetting the eggs with his urine if they dry out.
In other frog species, males carry their larvae wrapped around their legs or swallow their newly hatched tadpoles to shelter them in special mouth sacs, Forbes added, giving the offspring a safe haven in which to develop.

For most birds, females are stuck with child care, but not so for the South America's greater rhea (above, chicks nestle into their dad's back feathers at Washington D.C.'s National Zoo).
Females mate with several males during the breeding season, and several birds will lay their eggs in a nest created by a male. The male then incubates up to 50 eggs for six weeks and cares for the newly hatched young. The dads aggressively guard the babies, charging at any animal—even a female rhea—that approaches.



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