A male vole will prefer to mate exclusively with the first female he loses his virginity to. Another species that likewise frowns upon infidelity is the black vulture: One of the most studied animals in this regard is the mouse-like prairie vole. Interestingly, one of these, dopamine , is also implicated in drug addiction in humans. Of the roughly 5, species of mammals , only 3 to 5 percent are known to form lifelong pair bonds.
A male vole will prefer to mate exclusively with the first female he loses his virginity to. This helps explain why humans tend to be monogamous, since human children take so long to mature. Another species that likewise frowns upon infidelity is the black vulture: And his faithfulness approaches a kind of fanaticism: Because of recent revelations from animal studies, scientists now distinguish between three different types of monogamy: Far from trying to woo other females, a mated male vole will actually attack them. The females couldn't chirp their way out of that one. One of the most studied animals in this regard is the mouse-like prairie vole. For one, males are hardwired to spread their genes and females try to seek the best dad for their young. Also, animals once regarded as exemplars of faithfulness, such as gibbons and swans, are now known to cheat, abandon and even "divorce" one other, just like humans. Interestingly, one of these, dopamine , is also implicated in drug addiction in humans. The most commonly accepted explanation is that monogamy evolved in situations where young have a better chance of surviving if both parents are involved in raising them. Staying together makes for happier vulture babies, since both parents incubate eggs, each taking a hour shift, and for eight months the fledging gets fed by both parents. Of the roughly 5, species of mammals , only 3 to 5 percent are known to form lifelong pair bonds. This select group includes beavers, otters, wolves, some bats and foxes and a few hoofed animals. And even the creatures that do pair and mate for life occasionally have flings on the side and some, like the wolf, waste little time finding a new mate if their old one dies or can no longer sexually perform. But as the 10 examples in LIveScience's special presentation show, monogamy in the animal kingdom might be rare, but it is anything but boring. Still a mystery While scientists are starting to uncover clues about what causes certain animals to stay loyal to a partner, the underlying reason for monogamy is still an open question. Other Really Wild Stories. Also, monogamy is costly because it requires an individual to place their entire reproductive investment on the fitness of their mate. One famous experiment found that female blackbirds paired with sterilized males were still laying eggs that hatched. For example, an estimated 90 percent of all birds are socially monogamous, living and raising young together, but many frequently have sex with other partners. This explanation doesn't hold for all animals, however. Addicted to love The few animals that do stick together are providing scientists with valuable clues about the biological basis of fidelity. In light of recent revelations that homosexuality and polygamy are rampant in the wild, monogamy might seem like the plain vanilla of sexual lifestyles. In recent years, scientists have traced these unusual behaviors to levels of certain neurotransmitters in the rodents' brains.
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