Re: Hogs and instinct

Arthur L. Baron (abaron@STU.ATHABASCAU.CA)
Fri, 26 Jul 1996 16:19:47 MDT

> Jeannine Jarvis wrote: "I'm not convinced that maternal behaviors are =
> instinctual, in any life form. Rather, I would go out on a (short?) limb =
> to argue that maternal behavior --i.e., feeding, protecting -- offspring =
> is a learned behavior."
> >
> I hate to bring up those hogs I talked about the other day, but, no, =
> Jeannine, you're out on a long limb. Maternal behavior is no more =
> learned than the behavior of their offspring. I've witnessed the birth =
> of many pigs. The moment they pop out of the birth canal, they break =
> the placenta, and then immediately crawl up their mother's belly in a =
> frantic search for a teat.
> No one or no thing "learned" them that. The reason they do it is =
> instinct born of evolution. If they don't find one, they die. And in =
> the case of wild hogs with a large litter, the last one or two born do =
> just that--die. And their mother soon eats them--which is maternal =
> behavior of a different kind, and, probably, also evolutionary.
> Junior Doughty
> Natchitoches, LA
How true of many mammals, but a little closer to humans, the chimpanzees have
shown a cognitive need learn how to mother infants, and I would call that
maternal behaviour. Mothers, aunts, or other infant rearing females in the
group teach the daughters the necessary skills. Infants isolated from the
adult transmission during the formative years not only display poor social
skills but don't have a clue of what to do when it comes to raising an infant.

The pig stories bring back memories.

arthur baron