Competition among animals can be fierce, even among brothers and sisters. Some caterpillars, for example, will eat their siblings, and baby birds sometimes push their brothers and sisters out of the nest.
However, new research shows that this isn’t the case with earwigs.
“Young earwig offspring don’t simply compete for food. Rather the siblings share what is available amongst themselves, especially when the mother is absent,” said Dr. Joël Meunier of the Evolutionary Biology section of the Institute of Zoology at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.
He and his colleagues investigated the interactions between siblings of the European earwig (Forficula auricularia). The scientists provided 125 earwig families with dyed pollen and observed if and how the food was divided amongst the siblings.
“We found that siblings behave cooperatively and share food and that this behavior occurs much more frequently when the mother is not present and is not feeding her offspring herself,” stated Meunier.
“In the case of earwigs, we have a system that closely resembles the primitive conditions of family life,” said Jos Kramer, a doctoral candidate on Meunier’s team.
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