Weird Facts about Birth and Reproduction | Humans vs. Animals



to the females for the girls it's quality that counts but boys are driven to breed with as many mates as possible women need to be cautious when selecting a mate but for men any fertile female able to do so it is his behavior thoughtless vulgar inconsiderate or just plain good sense when it comes to sewing Wild Oats it's the same story for us and the rest of the animal world females of all species are usually a little more discerning they want their babies to have the best chance in life and this means they need the best possible genes from their males females can tell it geek from a hunk at vast distances and in the case of peacocks the eyes really do have it females will mate with the peacock whose feathers reveal the largest eye spots and girls it seems size really does matter offspring of the biggest and best males grow faster and are more likely to survive biologists who measure symmetry in animals think that there may be a genetic basis to feminine taste being lopsided may mean that you've not been able to deal with stresses such as resisting disease of competing for food in short the most symmetrical males are probably best suited to their habitat [Applause] females don't have the option of lab testing their prospective mates so such signs of physical condition provide an instant solution it means that humans like other animals have to be fit to attract a mate and mate favors for most animals making babies seems as easy as falling off a log and all the animals on our planet adopt one of two strategies some animals go for the Big Bang where quantity counts more than a gorgeous date for the particularly ugly sockeye salmon it's probably better than they get it over and done with quickly and their night of passion isn't exactly the stuff love songs are made of she lays the eggs he fertilizes them then they both drop dead but most other animals prefer not to have sex just once in their life shrews and other small mammals live life in the fast lane like rockstars they live fast die young and have hundreds of kids having a litter maybe normal for the shrews of this world but humans usually have only one baby as time we're among the most infertile animals on earth even though there are six billion of us on the planet getting pregnant is surprisingly difficult men toil around the clock to make 12 million sperm a day a women can only be bothered to release one egg a month and even then the eggs only fertile for three days the odds of getting pregnant are pretty slim there may be a huge amount of sperm but the egg presents a very small target in fact it's all quite a hidden miss affair one look at the CERN giant gives us a good idea what he was used for in the past humans may have prayed to him to have children but history doesn't record whether the visits actually worked now thanks to the wonders of science we understand the mechanics of getting pregnant using microscopic methods to matchmake scientists reveal how tricky the introduction between sperm and egg can be but it's not just us some animals have problems too like many big cats cheetahs are in decline in the wild and technology has provided a helping syringe to inject new life into the species koalas have also been helped in this way and of course the Panda is the world's best known bad breeder experts at the San Diego Zoo have started a panda sperm and egg dating agency they're using modern methods to overcome the pandas natural coyness towards coitus with artificial insemination the experts may well save the Panda from extinction but for most animals getting pregnant is easy and natural well as natural is being taken over by something that inhabits your body controls your movements and makes you eat non-stop you are what you eat and in the case of a newly conceived mammal you are what your mummies craving particular foods is the baby's way of making its needs no if it needs calcium then the mother might have an overwhelming urge to eat more cheese but with bananas chocolate and cabbage combo is unlikely to be a hit on a menu but it provides a delectable medley of fat and vitamins essential for growth the baby is demanding nutrition and the mother can be driven to impulsive behavior at times like these it helps to have an understanding partner the result of all this gorging is fat the bum hips and belly expands to protect the baby it's very functional but not very fashionable to us this ancient fertility figure may be no centerfold for twenty five thousand years ago man celebrated the link between fat and fertility because big women have big healthy babies and big babies have a better chance of survival than small ones but fat dads make good parents too the emperor penguin almost never sets foot on land it spends its life of the ice continent of Antarctica as winter begins the female lays her single egg the eggs gingerly passed over to her mate who puts it under a flap of skin called a brood patch the female then rushes off to the open water before he can change his mind a winter of fun beckons and the male's shuffled together in pods for protection against the minus 40 degree temperatures throughout the long dark Antarctic winter the male emperor penguin heroically battles the elements with an egg on his feet every minute at the time to drop or expose it means certain death to the embryo in the female's sleek glassy and smug come tobogganing across the ice to rescue and relieve their weary mates and the dads can go back to using their feet whereas feet and not nests humans may think they've reached the top of the evolutionary tree but like all animals they still need to prepare for the baby's arrival but it's made a little easier we have special shops to help as we panic and stumble through the nesting process everything that a parent could want and more a bewildering array of products that humans have to have and it makes you wonder how the rest of the animal world manages without [Applause] [Applause] in contrast to our behavior animals nests using whatever's around them for most birds that's a twig or two or a hole in a tree in many bird species male and females take turns sitting on the egg but not hornbills the female finds a suitable tree hole and starts to plaster up the entrance using her beak as a trowel the male offers his help but she generally ignores him preferring to gather her own mud and droppings a tiny openings left and when safely ensconced in her dung seal domain she incubate her eggs her mate attends to her needs fanatically bringing her food every day for the next few weeks the female takes advantage of her incarceration by molting her feathers and slumps about naked inside her tree then when she's got her figure back she breaks free from the hole and the chicks reseal the nest until they fledge whether you're a hornbill or a human preparing for the big day is a serious business and each and every nest is prepared with love the parents may be working hard to prepare for the baby's arrival but the baby is doing its own bit too by growing the schooi baby's fist oh come on well you man's chair baby's development using techniques such as ultrasound we've stolen this technology of dolphins who use it to navigate around their underwater world and fish for food they bounce sound waves off objects such as rocks sharks and camera crews and the echo they receive back provides a sound picture their ultrasound gives them superpowers x-ray vision it's thought that dolphins can detect when an animal is pregnant and can see the baby inside ultrasound provides a 3d peek inside the womb and checks on the health of the unborn child humans can also see if they're having a boy or a girl as yet we have little control over choosing the sex of our offspring but in the natural world some animals are ahead of the game for some reptiles like turtles alligators and crocodiles the sex of their offspring isn't fixed at conception female american alligators build nest mounds of mud and vegetation and lay a batch of eggs the mother can ensure that most of the eggs hatch Ismail's simply by locating a nest in a warm spot but if she climbs ashore and lays her eggs in a shady area they develop into females but that's not the end of the mother's involvement parental cares rare in reptiles but alligators are an exception to the rule the mother alligator keeps a beady eye on her nest and when the time comes helps her babies hatch mum then gently scoops up the hatchlings in her ample jaws and carries them down to the river for their first swim not many animals catch a sight of the world from these jaws of death unless it's their last few we'll mess with this mother and such formidable protection ensures a healthy start for her young despite our advanced understanding of the birth process when it comes to the crunch it's still a very tense time for both the male and the female of the species the human female is particularly vocal during delivery by contrast the male is confused helpless and probably nausea s– humans aren't the only animals who employ midwives during delivery but only the human ones wear these cute little blue uniforms for us it's a high-tech business with monitors to well monitor things and drugs to take away the pain but human males have it easy in comparison to the seahorse when it comes to being a father there's no animal quite like the seahorse it's dad who gets pregnant the only male animals stupid enough to do so the female places her eggs in the gullible males pouch then promptly Scarpas leaving him literally holding the babies after several weeks tiny sea folds emerge one by one to float in an oceanic nursery they're fed from secretions in their father's pouch until they're old enough to find food for themselves and despite the father's constant attempts to get back in touch with the mother she never returns his calls for the rest of us in the animal world the normal rules apply and it's the females who do all the hard work animals find the nearest hole in a tree a burrow underground or even the middle of a field because we've made such a fuss about birth and surrounded it with machines that go ping there's been a backlash natural birthing is the latest fashion if you can afford to hire a small swimming pool you can give birth underwater it's supposed to be better for the baby and more comfortable for the mother it may also save on swimming lessons and there's a lifeguard on hand if the youngster gets into trouble if you happen to be an elephant you can still have a midwife but you won't get the swimming pool midwives are common where animals are large bodied and live in tightly knit social groups elephant families are dominated by the fairer sex the matriarch rules a clan of her female relatives this sisterhood sticks together through thick and thin although the concept of thin is somewhat lost on these enormous cows older females in the family help young inexperienced mothers to be by providing care and support through the pregnancy birth and the raising of the young in elephant life midwives are exclusively female males play no part in assisting the birth of a baby for humans too when it comes to the big moment demands a bit of a spare part all he can do is hold her hand and quietly panic in the sanitized world of the modern delivery room the mechanics of birth left to the mother and the Midwife by comparison the marmoset male is truly a new man marmoset males are on standby to help their mates through the birth and beyond one baby has already been born and another is on its way most monkeys give birth to single young but marmoset generally have twins after the second twin appears the female contracts again and the afterbirth flops out as the female sits exhausted the male chews through the delicious umbilical cord and tucks into the placenta it may be a messy start but helping at the birth is just the beginning of the male's role in parenting for their baby maybe new man has a thing or two to learn from the marmoset babies hold a magnetic appeal for adults of many species we're attracted to those infantile traits small cuddly soft and vulnerable and being so cute is essential if you want adults to take care of you babies put their parents under a spell they need care 24 hours a day and the parents program to provide it but it isn't a one-way arrangement the baby may need its parents but both parents have a vested interest in making sure that their offspring survives the baby offers its parents a chance of ensuring that their genes live on so taking care of baby is a joint effort but sometimes dad isn't around and mothers have to rely on hired help to look after the baby sharing motherly duties isn't unique to the human world wet nurses and even daycare centers have long been employed by other animals social insects like bees are the experts at providing day care in the animal world the queen bee sets up a birth monopoly by sending out pheromones a chemical royal decree banning egg-laying among her servants then she throws herself into an egg-laying frenzy although eggs are laid in great numbers it's the quality of the care they receive that enables them to survive workers find food tidy up the hive and look after the babies in an oversized nursery the all-female workers are closely related to their Queen so they have a vested interest in the health of the hive males act as foreign bodies and serve only as flying sperm donors before they die the secret of the bees success is down to the most efficient and dedicated daycare in the world sharing caring duties is comparatively uncommon in mammals but in some mammal species recruiting mother's little helpers is a way of life having so many young can be a powerful and many mammals use nurseries and babysitters to look after the kids some species suckle and tend the children in a communal breeding system but the cooperation isn't always voluntary pack animals like these wild dogs are led by a dominant female and male only the alpha female is allowed to reproduce an unrelated lower-ranking females are coerced into the role of wetness the currency that keeps these nurseries together is lactation mammals are identified as a class of animals simply because of the odd milk secreting glands that develop in only half of their members one rare fruit bat is the sole exception to the role of lactation being exclusively female with their big litters of fast-growing costly young dwarf mongooses our models of communal breeding these Mongoose super mothers use nursemaids to spare their nipples while suckling so many young but in this case the females are related the subordinates act so much like real mothers that they spontaneously lactate mammals that pursue the milky way have an advantage infants can have their food on tap so they don't have to compete with adults and can be left so mother can go out to forage and restock milk supplies this dairy lifestyle works so well for mammals that the experts say and you know they're usually right but we succeeded where the dinosaurs failed simply because breast is best but the award for serial breeding and suckling in the mammal world has to go to a marsupial mammal the kangaroo kangaroos and wallabies like all marsupials give birth to tiny young that develop outside the womb to adapt to the unpredictable conditions kangaroos have evolved a milk production line to cater for infants of different ages while the tiny Joey is attached to a nipple producing semi-skimmed milk another nipple produces full fat milk for the older more active Joey hopping about beside the mother in a hostile environment always having a baby up your pipeline is a shrewd strategy in the Antarctic Weddell seals produce high fat milk for different reasons these seals give birth on precarious ice floes their pups need to develop fast to avoid predators and survive in their freezing icy playpen so milk has to be delivered in a hurry the mother hoards blubber in advance of birth and then feeds her nursing offspring pure cream the result is seal pups that grow quickly so the lift the fragile nurseries crack apart they have a better chance of surviving for many animals the milk of kindness is truly mother's milk breastfeeding has led to the evolution of a hormone which acts as a natural sedative providing a postnatal pain numbing euphoria it's possible that this hormone called oxytocin is also passed on in breast milk giving a feeling of peace and bonding for the mother and the baby but with a distinct lack of milking equipment how do males bond caring instincts can be found in male primates and bonding is a necessary first step human males can bond by proudly showing off the fruit of their loins but what makes a good dad in the rest of the animal world the boom mums live in multi-male troops the male's have no idea who's kiddies who's so they adopt a contingency plan they stay in touch with former girlfriends and protect them and their babies from males intent on trouble grooming helps males to bond and feel like dad even though they probably aren't and also helps to keep on the mother's good self the Boone males can also be surprisingly patient when rudely harassed by curious youngsters babysitting and playing with the nippers is a good way to bond to male gorillas grow huge and sport a silverback to advertise dominance and control of a harem of females so a silverback male can be certain the infant's that surround him are his own and can spend time being an affectionate and indulgent Big Daddy even when the young Apes playful antics are driving him to distraction but the award for the most attentive and playful dad goes to the black-tailed prairie dog the black-tailed prairie dog is a rodent that gets its name from the strange barking sound it makes when it detects an enemy and through having a black-tailed prairie dog towns are made up of over a thousand individuals divided into clans prairie dog pups are treated like royalty pups demand constant attention and no little prince is ignored prairie dogs are very active fathers playing with and grooming the pups just as much as the mothers do but some males plain little or no part in parenting and can even be dangerous a lion pride is usually composed of a dominant male perhaps one or two younger males and a number of closely related females and their young the females share the males and do most of the hunting with such closely bonded females lion cubs can catch a milk from more than one mother the males spend most of their time lying around they're only parental contribution being to protect the pride and put up with annoying youngsters but with so many mothers around and a father close by lion cubs are positively besieged by parent figures some animals take no part in parenting are they bad parents lazy or just very clever many frog mothers just lay their eggs and leave the embryos are on their own sadly they'll never experience the loving care and protection of a big ugly frog and will have to survive by using what legacy is left to them inside the egg most parents do everything they can to ensure their offsprings survival but babies help themselves and their parents by being born with their own instincts to survive being newborn means you're vulnerable all babies have natural reflexes that are used to cope with their precarious state recognising the person who takes care of you is top of the list young animals are programmed to seek attachment to a trusted figure there's a crucial time just after birth when some young animals imprint and an adult Gosling's are programmed to attach to the first figure that looms before them it's usually their mother but the instinct is so strong that if the first figure they see is human then that becomes mum the Gosling's best prospects for keeping safe is to stick close to Mum follow her everywhere even when she's being silly wildebeest use a similar sheep mentality they migrate vast distances over territory infected with predators to stay alive in the wildebeest world means you have to follow the crowd and follow it quickly wildebeest calves can stand on their own two feet and can be running away from danger within minutes of being born I'd like other antelopes wildebeest have lost the instinct to hide instead they are urged on by the impulse to follow primates aren't born runners but do have some advantages hands to hold on with grasping in young Apes is of vital reflex for clinging when being carried for humans it's a throwback to our ancient ancestors a young primates urge to cling to a familiar figure is a powerful force staying close to a caretaker is essential for your own survival and development the larger you are and the longer lived you are means more time spent growing up and learning from adults all apes develop slowly with their big heads and large brains humans take the longest to mature to cope with the inevitable squeeze through the birth canal human babies are born earlier and so much more helpless than other primates unlike a wildebeest calf humans don't know how to walk within minutes of being born it takes time first they must learn to balance their weight mobility comes next with the advent of crawling just before a year old human babies start to pull themselves up right to take those first momentous steps walking on two legs is an important part of being human it's one of the more obvious biological differences between humans and other Apes once your mobile desires can be turned into actions and these actions are expressed even more clearly by another development [Applause] language the use of language is an essential difference between humans and other animals but that's not to say other creatures don't communicate sights sounds and smells are used to great effect among animals to convey messages to friends and deal with enemies there's another skill that's rare in the animal world self-awareness is thought to exist only in humans and possibly higher rates like chimpanzees it's the ability to recognize yourself in a mirror a key indicator of intelligence the boons may look intrigued by their reflection but apparently they've no idea who's staring back at them for human babies self recognition is a milestone in early development and you can detect it as soon as the little darlings mention the words I want I'll fight over that vital toy most manners clay it may be great fun but it's got a serious purpose it allows animals to test their strengths against peers and teaches valuable lessons about pecking order through play a youngster can acquire the experience it may need in adulthood and watching and imitating adults also helps to hone your skills young chimps learn how to use and make tools by observing adults and then practicing the skills themselves for many animals a parent's experience and knowledge is vital to its survival elephants like humans live on a long time after the birth of their children recent studies have shown that the older an elephant matriarch is the more finely tuned her social skills are and this is tied into the success of her family and the old adage that an elephant never forgets holds a great deal of truth the elephant grandmother remembers the location of vital resources her experience guides the group to find essential nutrients and water in times of need without this knowledge the survival of the youngsters would be severely affected as with all enemies the wisdom of the parents is passed on down the generations through their skills their genes live on to be a success in life is to be a successful parent it's the only way to ensure immortality parents for the successful of those who've raised their babies which not only means giving birth but looking after them until they reach independence as their children venture out into the big wide world the successful parents can rest assured having prepared their offspring for the long road ahead to live their lives avoid death and hopefully new tomato you

23 Replies to “Weird Facts about Birth and Reproduction | Humans vs. Animals”

  1. Learn something new every day. Didn't know that crocodiles can control the sex of their offspring by laying eggs in different areas.

  2. Camera mutual finish dlzoi huh senator doctor cholesterol shape receive border soon pace advantage.

  3. I really couldn’t watch. The film was snarky, condescending, crude, opinion-laden, and overall in poor taste. Was not at all educational.

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