Wed, Aug 08, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Best dads of the animal kingdom
動物界暖男:海馬、企鵝最爸氣

A male seahorse gives birth to the babies from his brood pouch.
公海馬自腹部育兒袋中生出小海馬。

Photo: Screen grab from YouTube
照片:擷圖自YouTube

Today is August 8th — Father’s Day in Taiwan. August 8 was chosen for Father’s Day because the pronunciation of “eight-eight” in Mandarin Chinese is “ba-ba,” a homonym of “papa.” On Father’s Day, people take the opportunity to express their gratitude for their father’s hard work. The animal kingdom has its own stand-out dads, too.

For many animals, childbearing and rearing are left to the females — for some species, the males even disappear soon after mating. But there are exceptions, such as the seahorses that wear the twin hats of both the father and mother, and emperor penguins that share responsibility for childcare.

The reproduction of seahorses is particularly striking because the seahorses are “borne” by the males — female seahorses leave their unfertilized eggs in special pouches on the males . After two to three weeks of “pregnancy,” the males give birth to baby seahorses that hatch and grow in the pouches. The number of babies pushed out can reach more than a thousand. Seahorses are ovoviviparous fish.

To hatch the egg, emperor penguins have to endure sub-zero temperatures, during which time they must also fast. From May to June each year, the emperor penguin mother will lay an egg — only one at a time. By this time the mother’s nutritional reserves are exhausted and she has to go back to the sea for food. The father balances the egg on the top of his feet, incubating the egg in his brood pouch, keeping it at a comfortable temperature of 36 degrees Celsius in the freezing environment, with temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius. During the incubation period which lasts for about 65 consecutive days, the males do not eat, spending most time in sleep, surviving on the fat stored in their bodies.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. seahorse n.

海馬 (hai2 ma3)

2. emperor penguin phr.

皇帝企鵝 (huang2 di4 qi1 e2)

3. pouch n.

育兒袋 (yu4 er2 dai4)

4. hatch v.

孵化 (fu1 hua4)

5. fast v.

禁食 (jin4 shi2)

6. regurgitate v.

反芻 (fan3 chu2)


The mother returns after feeding in the sea for about two months. She can find her own partner among the hundreds of new dads by recognizing his vocal call, and feeds the chick by regurgitating the food that she has stored in her stomach. Then it is the father’s turn to leave and feed himself in the sea.

(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)

今天是八月八日,是台灣的父親節。之所以選擇這天為父親節,是因為中文「八八」是「爸爸」的諧音。為人子女常在父親節表達對父親的感恩,但你知道嗎,在動物界也有堪稱模範父親的好爸爸呢!

多數動物是由雌性擔任育兒工作,有些動物的雄性甚至在雌性懷孕後,就不見蹤影。但是也有例外,例如父兼母職的海馬,以及共同分擔育兒責任的皇帝企鵝。

海馬的生殖方式特別引人注目,因為海馬是由爸爸來「懷孕」──母海馬將卵產在雄海馬腹中之育兒袋(孵卵囊),海馬爸爸便在接下來二至三週挺著大肚子,然後辛苦生下孵化的海馬寶寶──剛出生的小海馬數量可達千隻以上。海馬是屬於卵胎生魚類。

皇帝企鵝爸爸為了孵蛋,會忍受零度以下低溫,並且禁食。在每年五至六月,皇帝企鵝媽媽會產下一顆蛋(一次只生一顆)──此時母企鵝身體儲存的能量消耗殆盡,必須返回大海覓食。在這段期間,雄企鵝把蛋放在腳掌上,用雙腿和腹部下方之間的育兒袋包覆,讓蛋在環境溫度低達攝氏零下四十度的低溫中,保持在舒適的攝氏三十六度。在約六十五天的孵化期間,雄企鵝不吃不喝,多在睡眠中度過,仰賴體中儲存的脂肪度日。

企鵝媽媽出海約兩個月後,便會返回。牠能在數以百計的新爸爸中,透過叫聲找到自己的伴侶,然後反芻吐出儲存在胃裡的食物來餵小企鵝。這時,就輪到企鵝爸爸離開,到大海去捕食了。

(台北時報林俐凱)

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