A new study shows that alligators are remarkably loyal to their sexual partners. This could help to shed light on the mating habits of some dinosaurs as well.
This new 10-year study, conducted by researchers from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, showed that up to 70% of female alligators are loyal to their initial mating partners. The scientists were shocked.
Stacey Lance, one of the researchers, said: “Given how incredibly open and dense the alligator population is at RWR we didn’t expect to find fidelity. To actually find that 70% of our re-trapped females showed mate fidelity was really incredible. I don’t think any of us expected that the same pair of alligators that bred together in 1997 would still be breeding together in 2005 and may still be producing nests together to this day.”
Generally, most reptile species don’t engage in any form of parental care. Crocodilians, however, are different. They nurture their young and protect the nest. In an even more “family-style” way, researchers now find for the first time in any crocodilian species “partial mate fidelity,” similar to how many bird species live and mate.
Also, as the only surviving reptilian archosaurs, “a group of ancient reptiles that includes dinosaurs and gave rise to birds,” this discovery may lead to a better understanding of related dinosaur species in the future.
The results of this study were just recently published in the journal Molecular Ecology.
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