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December 10, 2019 - Science AAAS

Granny killer whales pass along wisdom—and extra fish—to their grandchildren

Granny killer whales pass along wisdom—and extra fish—to their grandchildren
Killer whales, young and oldFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Studies have shown that having a living grandmother increases a child’s chance of survival. Now, new research shows the same may be true for killer whales.

By providing young animals with some freshly caught salmon now and then—or perhaps with knowledge on where to find it—grannies increase their grand-offspring’s chance of survival. The new study is the first direct evidence in nonhuman animals of the “grandmother hypothesis.” The idea posits that females of some species live long after they stop reproducing to provide extra care for their grandchildren.

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