It’s the countdown to Valentine’s Day, so talk of true love and such is in the air. Given that nearly half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, many of us are probably a bit cynical about whether humans are meant for monogamy (which is the case for only about 5 percent of animals, anyway). Nonetheless, it might do us well to consider these ten animals, who choose one mate for life.
1. Hawksbill Turtle
Critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles, who live in the Seychelle Islands, have monogamous sex lives, as researchers have recently discovered. The turtles live underwater, far out to sea; females store the sperm of one male and use it to fertilize multiple clutches of young.
2. Prairie Vole
3. Kirk’s Dik-dik
Males and females from this species of African antelope with distinctive eyes roam in pairs, sticking together both sexually and socially.
4. Mexican Gray Wolf
These wolves generally keep the same mates throughout life unless one dies, strays from the pack and/or becomes too ill to breed.
5. California Mouse
While the Golden State became associated with free love and all that in the 1960s, the California mouse has been found to be more “traditional.” Via genetic testing, scientists have found that, in 28 families studied over two years, one male was the father of the young in each nest.
6. Convict Cichlid
Males and females of this freshwater fish from Central America mate in a crevasse that becomes “their space.” They then share parental duties including going after wandering larvae, putting them in their mouths and deposting in the direction of “home.”
Treehugger describes these rodents as a “serial monogamous” species who maintain dams and pools and raise families of two to four kits, who “stay at home” (um, at the dam) for two years.
8. Shingleback Skink
These Australian armored lizards mate with the same lizard annually. Their young are born live and the males stick around to help care for them.
9. Black Vulture
Vultures are mostly thought of as feeding on the carcasses of dead animals. But a study of the black vulture has found that pairs of males and females not only spend most of the year together, but they also share parenting duties, including incubating eggs.
10. Parasitic Worm
This worm (Schistosoma mansoni), found in humans, takes “monogamy” to rather extreme lengths, with an adult female worm literally residing in a male’s “gynaecophoric canal, which is a modification of the ventral surface of the male forming a groove,” as Wikipedia puts it. The females lay about 300 eggs a day (an egg every 4.8 minutes). Clearly that is to the woe of the human being the worms are in — but as an example of successful procreation (and pairing), not exactly bad.
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