We are really fortunate to have our grandparents in our lives, they are the source of wisdom, comfort and joy, many of us have already grown up with our grandparents, the family in the human world is not limited to mother and father to raise children, hence grandparents are respected and revered.
Our grandparents have some classic behaviors toward us as grandchildren, such as telling old stories, pampering, defending us, justifying our actions, and nurturing us fully if necessary, but are these behaviors limited to Homo sapiens only? Do any animals know their ancestors the way people know their ancestors? For most species on Earth, the unequivocal answer is “no.” Read also Treasure untapped seismic data in whale singing echoes Brazilian study: The tears of birds and reptiles are not very different from human tearsDo animals, birds and fish laugh like humans do? A recent study answers One of the wonders of creation.. Elderly Seychelles birds use younger babysitters
Why elephants in particular?
Elephant herds are notorious for being matriarchal, as elephants are usually born in groups led by their grandmothers, who can live to the age of 80 years. The females in the herd form close bonds, Ladenbera says, and they cooperate to raise their young.
Professor Phyllis Lee, Professor of Psychology at the University of Stirling, UK, wanted to know more about how elephant families cooperate. And in her research, published in Springer in 2016, she found something surprising: having a grandmother made a big difference to whether or not the new baby survived.
“It was an unexpected discovery for us,” she tells me. “We didn’t think we’d find such a positive relationship between having a grandmother present and how well the girls did in terms of having children.”
For most animals, living and having children are intertwined. The animal only stops having children when it dies. This makes animals like elephants, which can live long after they have finished breeding, very rare.
Another part of why elephants are so special comes from the fact that they live so long, while many other animals simply don’t live long enough to see their children give birth. But, even if this were the case, other animals would not necessarily have any significant attachment to the child.
In many species, the mother and grandmother will end up fighting each other for resources and food if they are in the same area, but not the elephants.
grandmother of langurs
In her 2009 book The Social Behavior of Older Animals, Canadian zoologist Anne Ines Dag described langur groups in India as older females meeting their daughters and grandchildren.
The grandmother of langurs has a specific function. She vigorously defends the children of the group against the attacks of humans, dogs and rival monkeys. Some female langurs even give their grandchildren special treatment, teaching them and interfering when they play violently with other young.
Sperm whales and orcas
Many whale species also travel in family groups that include both grandmothers and grandchildren. According to Dag, groups of sperm whales help elderly females look after the group’s young while their mothers dive for food.
Grandmothers of orcas also often lead their packs and can live for decades after they stop breeding. (The oldest known orca, Granny , died in 2016 at the age of over 100.)
In 2015, the scientists wrote in the journal Current Biology (Current Biology) that these large whales Aloorca help her grandchildren to survive in difficult times, because they remember the best places to find food.
Most of the evidence for the presence of grandmothers in the lives of grandchildren comes from mammals. But in 2010, researchers reported in Current Biology that in colonies of insects called aphids (Quadrartus yoshinomiyai), older females defend their kin after they stop breeding.
A 2007 study in the journal Evolution also found that older female Seychelles (Acrocephalus sechellensis) sometimes helped her offspring raise chicks.
What about male grandparents?
Ladenbera says that human studies in recent decades have shown that having a grandfather in the lives of grandchildren can improve a person’s mental health as well as other indicators of well-being, but there is no evidence of a male grandfather’s role in the animal kingdom.
Male elephants, for example, tend to emerge on their own after reaching puberty. Although she can live long enough to see her children, she does not play any family roles.
Male animals rarely mix with their offspring, says Ladenbera. “Male (animals) usually focus on having more offspring, and don’t provide a lot of care.”