This coming Sunday it is Father’s Day in the US. Before Mother’s Day, I had a whole week of posts about mothers and I surely don’t want to neglect the fathers!
Mother’s Week Posts
Fathers, in general, are not always equal contributors to the parental care. Now don’t get offended, I’m referring to all organisms here, not humans. In humans, and some other types of animals, the father can contribute just as much as the mother, if not more.
So, for today I thought I would highlight several special types of fathers that take an unusual amount of responsibility in parental care.
Gafftopsail Catfish (Bagre marinus)
The Gafftopsail Catfish is one example of many different fish species where the father does the majority of the parental care. In this case, he holds the eggs, and even the young fry, in his mouth to protect them until they are ready to be out on their own. He goes hungry the whole time. What a dad!
Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)
The female lays the eggs, but it is actually the male who incubates them. Once they hatch, he will take care of them until they are young enough to be on their own. Not just a few weeks either, but nine to eighteen months.
Penguin parents are pretty special in general. The mother can spend months fasting while the egg is incubating and then she’ll trade off with the father. Among Emperor penguins, the father can regurgitate a nutritious substance for the chicks, even while fasting himself.
Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.)
I can’t write a post about special dads without commenting on seahorses! Seahorses are exceptional in the sense that he carries a brood pouch. The females deposit up to 1,500 eggs in the male’s brood pouch and he carries them until they hatch out, making it appear that the male is giving birth! They are the only fathers I know of that get to share the experience of being pregnant.
Can you think of any other exceptional fathers?