APR 23, 2017 5:57 PM PDT

Do animals really mate for life?


We know that some animals are loyal to their partner for their entire lifetime, something that most humans even struggle with, but why exactly do some species mate for life? And are there any species that are completely, and faithfully monogamous?

Take the albatross, for example, which is known not only for its long wingspan and tireless flying capabilities, but also for its fidelity. Young albatross will express their interest to each other with a courting dance before settling on a lifelong partner. But once they've chosen, that's it! When physically separate, a pair will return to their nest at the same time to reunite! However, even this most loyal pairing will sometimes have the odd one night stand with another albatross, though cheating doesn't seem to be something worth breaking up over in the albatross world.

That's because being monogamous has its perks in terms of parenting responsibilities, something which humans can relate to as well. The Superb Fairy Wren is a prime case of monogamy on the surface but infidelity under the cover of night - literally. Both female and male fairy wrens will cheat on their otherwise lifelong mates because it makes their chances of passing on their genes better, while at the same time the illusion of monogamy guarantees the pair the resources necessary to raise their offspring. Sound familiar?
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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