Male killer whales ‘mummy’s boys’

They have a fearsome reputation, but in reality killer whales are mummy’s boys.

Scientists have discovered that mother killer whales have the longest menopause of any non-human species - so they can care for their adult sons.

Female killer whales stop reproducing in their thirties or forties, but can live beyond the age of 90.

The reason for the creature’s long menopause is a long-standing mystery. Only a handful of other species, including humans, halt female reproduction part-way through their lives. The research is published in the journal Science.

The team of British and Canadian scientists analysed 36 years of records from two killer whale populations in the North Pacific. They found that the length of time a female lived after she stopped reproducing strongly influenced the survival of her offspring. (complete news item)

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