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Nursing chaos: puppies can't decide which nipple they like best!

Seriously, Science?
By Seriously Science
May 11, 2016 3:00 PMNov 20, 2019 5:22 AM


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According to these scientists, there's something different between cats and dogs, and it's not how much they love their owners! Previously, these authors tracked the nursing behavior of 52 kittens (11 litters) and found that each kitten decides on a favorite nipple within three days of birth. In contrast, they refer to the behavior of nursing puppies as simply "chaos". Here, they wondered if the nursing behavior of puppies has something to do with domestication. To test this idea, they observed the suckling behaviors of four litters of captive dingos, and the result was... chaos! The scientists suggest that the differences between kitten and puppy nursing behaviors predates domestication. Perhaps they should focus their future efforts on filming nursing behaviors of wild felines... say, nursing cheetah kittens? I'm sure if they put the (super cute) data online, they would have plenty of volunteers to "analyze" it!

Pattern of Nipple Use by Puppies: A Comparison of the Dingo (Canis dingo) and the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris). "Surprisingly little information is available about the behavior of newborn mammals in the functionally vital context of suckling. We have previously reported notable differences in the pattern of nipple use by kittens of the domestic cat and puppies of the domestic dog. Whereas kittens rapidly develop a "teat order," with each individual using principally 1 or 2 particular nipples, puppies show no such pattern. We asked whether the more "chaotic" behavior seen in puppies of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) could be the result of relaxed selection due to domestication. In a first test of this hypothesis, we studied suckling behavior in 4 litters of wild-type captive dingoes (Canis dingo), a canid species that has inhabited the Australian mainland in substantial numbers for at least 5,000 years with minimal human influence. On all measures of individual puppies' behavior-time spent attached to nipples, lack of individual use of particular nipples and consequent absence of a teat order, lack of synchronized suckling with other littermates, lack of agonistic behavior-we found no differences between the 2 species. In conclusion, we suggest that the difference between the pattern of suckling behavior of kittens of the domestic cat (and other felids) and the domestic dog is not an artifact of domestication, but rather reflects phylogenetic differences between felids and canids as a consequence of their different lifestyles and associated patterns of parental care. These findings emphasize the need for comparative studies to avoid simplistic generalizations from 1 or 2 species across broad taxonomic groups." Related content: NCBI ROFL: A foot needs a nipple like a fish needs a bicycle. NCBI ROFL: Inverted nipples. What to do? NCBI ROFL: Allergy to human seminal fluid: cross-reactivity with dog dander.

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