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Babies and Birth

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3904.  Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:28 am Reply with quote

This interestingly is the same strategy adopted by robins (see Birds thread...), not to mention bitches (and maybe other species) quite commonly give birth to a litter containing a dazzling variety of shapes and colours sired by different fathers.

4310.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 5:28 pm Reply with quote

Offered without comment:

COLLEGE STATION - Breastfeeding is still considered only for infants only in much of the United States, but a Texas A&M anthropologist is finding that there are mothers in this country who are nursing children beyond three years of age.
Katherine Dettwyler, who specializes in growth and development and nutritional anthropology, recently completed a preliminary survey of approximately 1,075 mothers (1,434 children) who nursed their children longer than three years.
"I found two mothers who nursed six children each to age three or longer, and one mother who nursed her three children to six years of age," she says. "There were still a few who nursed children past age six, but age nine was the longest."

4327.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:25 pm Reply with quote

Well that wasn't news to me. I've known a couple of people who've nursed babies beyond three - the oldest was four I think.

Fortunately, all mine decided they would give it up by the time they got to a year!

4361.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 8:43 pm Reply with quote

Culled from the QIDb.

I donít dislike babies, though I think very young ones rather disgusting.
QUEEN VICTORIA (1819-1901)

    The bodies of new born babies contain no bacteria. As a result, if they die, they do not decay, but become mummified.

    96% of babies arrive at times different from those the doctor says they will.

    More babies are born at full moons than at any other time.

    Babies up to the age of about seven months can breathe and swallow at the same time: something that adults cannot do.

    Recent reports suggest that babies who have baggy nappies grow up to 30% larger brains than those in tight-fitting ones.

    Unsupervised babies who fall into swimming pools die of heart attacks, not drowning.

Sorry, no sources. I put this list together for my sister who is getting married for the second time shortly and this time (I think) happily. Hurrah!

4362.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 8:47 pm Reply with quote

A cousin of my wife's was breastfeeding both her boys after they turned five.

I always thought this was seriously odd. (Especially as she is a tough, working woman, and something of an old-style feminist).

Eee, there's no accounting for folks.

4389.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:10 am Reply with quote

Just one paper:
International Journal of Epidemiology 2003;32:92-96
of many to suggest that the global average length breastfeeding is much longer than the norms in the middle class western world.

Results Median length of breastfeeding was 22 months.
in other words half the sample went on at it for longer than two years.

Children weaned early had higher mortality and breastfeeding is effective in extending birth spacing which in turn diminishes mortality. See the La Leche League for more and more and more info on positive aspects of breastfeeding.

4390.  Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:12 am Reply with quote

Well, I never did. Except I, er, did, if you follow. Still, nine years is going some.

4868.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:56 pm Reply with quote

Thought virgin birth was impossible? Think again. But being a shark turns out to be a distinct advantage, much to scientists' surprise:

A female white spotted bamboo shark at the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit gave birth to two babies in July, surprising her keepers because she hadn't been near a male for six years. She'd been housed in a tank with a female brown banded bamboo shark for the last six years. Some shark species give birth to live young; others lay eggs. It is not unusual for unpartnered females to lay eggs, and both these females had laid eggs before, but they had previously been assumed to be infertile and discarded. It was thought until now that sharks use internal fertilisation through copulation.

Their curator left the eggs in the tank for a while because he had heard of a bonnethead shark at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, thought to have given a virgin birth last year. He eventually transferred the eggs to a separate tank, and 15 weeks after they'd been laid, the eggs hatched.

The births have raised questions among scientists as to whether sharks may be able to reproduce parthenogenetically, a mode of reproduction in which the egg is not fertilized. These so-called virgin births are common in invertebrates like snails, but are unusual in higher vertebrates, although documented in snakes, salamanders, lizards and one breed of turkeys.

Curators have ruled out long-term sperm storage, because of the length of time involved and the source from which the sharks were obtained. A third, but unlikely, possibility is that the Belle Isle bamboo shark is a hermaphrodite, harboring both male and female sex organs, and capable of fertilizing its own eggs.

The offspring would not be a true clone because there is some exchange at the chromosomal level, and the genes are reshuffled very slightly.

The bonnethead shark at the Omaha Zoo and the bamboo shark at Belle Isle are from different families; the bonnethead suspected of a virgin birth gave birth to a live pup, rather than laying eggs as the bamboo shark had.

The two sharks at the Belle Isle Aquarium typically go on an egg-laying spree once or twice a year, laying a clutch of four to six eggs. Curators are now incubating them, just in case.

4977.  Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:23 am Reply with quote

The Chamba of the Cameroon/Nigerian border hold that the incomprehensible babbling of infants and the old is the language of the spirit world. The former have not yet forgotten it, the latter are resuming it, hence their affinity with each other. The Baule of Ivory Coast maintain that it it dangerous even to bring together two babies still babbling ancestral language. They might plot against the living.


Cf. Rowley Birkin, Q.C.

4979.  Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:25 am Reply with quote

I wonder if that is one of the reason for the superstition against twins and triplets in some African tribes.

4986.  Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:30 pm Reply with quote

Oh, that rings a bell somewhere -- Who was the (Scottish?) King who had a theory about ancestral language and brought up two babies on a deserted island with deaf-mute nursemaids, to see what happened? As far as I remember, the King was relieved to find that when they reached adolescence the children "spake guid Hebrew". I may have dreamed this.

4988.  Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:54 pm Reply with quote

Oh, and coming back to virgin births, how about the whiptail lizard? Every single whiptail is female, there is no such thing as a male whiptail.$narrative.html

Cnemidophorus sonorae is a unisexual, all-female species that breeds by parthenogenesis (Goldberg et al. 1997, Routman and Hulse 1984, Porter et al. 1994). Ovulation is often stimulated by "pseudocourtship" among the females; the unfertilized eggs develop into hatchlings that are genetically identical to their mothers. Their reproductive season occurs from mid May into late July. Two or three clutches of three to four eggs may be produced annually. Shelled oviductal eggs have an average length of 14.25 mm and a mass of 0.53 g (Routman and Hulse 1984). Eggs are buried in the ground; based on studies of related species, the incubation period is probably around 40 to 60 days.

I think I'm safe in divining that "pseudocourtship" is a rather fusty euphemism for homosexual sex, and a little too sniffy for my liking since it's grudgingly admitted that whiptail sex can stimulate ovulation. Interesting, no?

*B u t* ... can we really include the lovely whiptail, since it doesn't really give birth? OK, so there are babies at the end of it (or whatever little lizards are called -- hatchlings?), but is this really a "B" factoid? My lords and ladies, I crave your counsel.

More high-faluting stuff about whiptails than you could shake a stick at here; (download).

5022.  Wed Jan 21, 2004 6:58 pm Reply with quote

We'll run pretty much anything if it provides scope for the comedians, I think - so if you have a question in mind ....

I read a book about tropical fish the other day and started to note down the ones that change sex (or at least can do so) during their lives, but then it turned out that almost all of them can, so I stopped bothering. One species lives in all-female shoals with a single male. Then if he dies or goes missing the dominant female butches up and turns into a male to take over.

5060.  Thu Jan 22, 2004 7:49 am Reply with quote

"B" of course is for "Bisexuality", in both the gender-bending sense and the homohetero sense. We also had a fair amount about bisexual (gender-bending) bears, if I recall correctly. New thread?

5080.  Thu Jan 22, 2004 10:55 am Reply with quote

Garrick didn't dream the story of the king who brought up his 2 children on a deserted island with deaf-mute nursemaids, he may be relieved to hear. However, it's not really true either. This story has been attributed to lots of monarchs and despots throughout myth and history. The aim of the "experiment" in all the stories was to find out if the babies would spontaneously start speaking in Hebrew, "the language of God and the angels". Obviously they simply grew up unable to speak at all.


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