Top five best animal dads
Sunday, June 15, 2014, 8:56 PM -
When it comes to raising the kids, mom is usually the first to get all the praise. However, it would be unfair – and even ignorant – not to give dad credit where credit is due. This Father's Day, we highlight five of the best dads in the animal kingdom (unscientifically chosen, from a human perspective in no particular order), who's parenting skills would give Ward Cleaver a run for his money.
5. EMPEROR PENGUIN
This papa earns his spot for his incredible endurance. After the female lays her egg, she immediately leaves for the open ocean to forage for food for two whole months. This leaves the responsibility of keeping the newly laid egg warm through the frigid Antarctic winter to the father.
Unlike birds who sit on their eggs, male emperors stand to protect their eggs from elements by balancing them on their feet and covering them with their feathered skin known as brood pouch. During this two month period, the males eat nothing and are at the mercy of the incredibly harsh environment where wind chills can reach -60°C.
When it comes to role reversal, the male seahorse reigns supreme. Not only is he monogamous, but this creature is actually the one who gets pregnant, carrying up to 1000 youngins at a time. The males are pregnant for several weeks before giving birth to their brood.
"Seahorses are the champions of paternal care,” says Sara Lewis of Tufts University.
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“They are one of the few animals where the males are morphologically specialized to take care of the young."
While the young are in the pouch, males give oxygen through a capillary network, transfer nutrients, and change the atmosphere in the pouch to prepare the seahorses to go into the ocean when they are born.
This dad is notable for his self-sacrificing ways. After the female lays the eggs, the male will stand by them for six to seven weeks and use their fins to fan water over the eggs to aerate them. This is essential to the survival of the unhatched lumpsuckers.
While guarding the eggs, the male will also attack any other fish that come near or pose a threat to the eggs.
2. GIANT WATER BUG
Those aren’t ordinary lumps on poor daddy’s back – those are future offspring!
Giant water bugs carry the eggs on their wings until they hatch. And if you’re thinking about messing with this guy, you may want to reconsider. The giant water bug of Japan is a fierce hunter, paralysing prey by injecting them with toxins. The male can carry as many as 150 eggs at a time.
When it comes to parenting, the male jacana does most of the work – from making the nests, incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.
Once the female lays her eggs, she abandons the nest to go find another mate. During that time, the dad remains on the nest, watching over the eggs to protect them. The male jacana is one of the most loyal homemakers in nature, so much so, that it often cares for eggs that were fertilized by other males.