Why do female penguins attempt to steal young?
October 24, 2005 5:54 PM Subscribe
Selfish penguin theory: I just saw March of the Penguins and observed the chick-stealing behavior. How is this at all adaptive?
posted by nev to Science & Nature (13 answers total)
I know that offspring theft occurs in other species, but it seems that selfish gene theory would predict that this behavior become extinguished fast. The "mother" will spend a great deal of resources raising a chick that has none of her genes, at risk to her life and ability to reproduce next season. Yet the behavior (in Emperor penguins, anyway) is common enough that other females recognize and attempt to prevent the theft. How is this explained in terms of evolutionary biology?