Recent research has confirmed that the place in the queue Meerkat mating largely depends on its weight – to such a degree that the animals will participate in the competitive kind of food to increase their weight and to make itself more attractive to potential partners.
These exciting new findings – uncovered by a University of Cambridge-led team and published inNature – are based on the knowledge that meerkats live in cooperative groups with one dominant mating pair and a number of non-reproductive individuals. As is the case with many other animals, whether or not you are in the dominant pair mating largely informed how you can grow and get your weight up.
But what this new study shows for the first time among any animal, is that meerkats will actually raise their food intake as a specific response to the competition from the reproductive opponent.
The researchers came to this conclusion after carrying out an experiment in which some meerkats closer to the back of the queue mating fed boiled eggs in order to increase their weight, while the other meerkats higher in the mating queue were left alone to eat as they usually are.
As expected, meerkats, fed eggs grew rapidly in weight, more than any of the others. And, of course, not meerkats fed eggs have responded by increasing their food intake and grow much faster than meerkat otherwise would have been.
Because many animals have reproductive stage on the basis of body weight, the researchers are now wondering how many other animals are involved in this kind of competitive eating.
“Our results show that people adjust their growth to the size of its nearest competitor,” The study states, “and increase the likelihood that these plastic reaction to the risk of competition could occur in other social mammals, including domestic animals and primates.”
And if the primates, who knows, maybe even the same people?