The Four Most Caring Mothers in the World (That Care in Awful Ways)

Posted: April 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

A common problem with this blog is, I think, aside from the inaccuracies, the libel, the downright dangerous advice and, of course, the fact it is simply a mouthpiece for the secret World Government, is that is is not ‘down with the kids’. It is not ‘cool’, ‘groovy’, ‘fo shizzle YOLO LMFAO bro’ or ‘definitely the bee’s knees, by Jove!’.

When researching this article I tried hanging around schools to note down the slang used but this brought its own share of problems.

So, in order to counter this, and therefore get more readership, which in turn will please the Shadow World Council, I’ve decided to present this article in the form of a list, which is what all the cool websites and blogs are doing these days. It is probably only a matter of time before North Korea’s official website publishes a list of ‘The 100,000,000 hottest women Kim Jong Un has definitely slept with’ or ‘Seven hilarious jokes (that will lead to you mysteriously vanishing)’. So, since everyone else is doing it, I will too. After all, absolutely nothing has ever gone wrong with blindly following the crowd.

So please welcome “The Four Most Caring Mothers In The World (That Care in Awful Ways)”.

Coming in at number five is the Suriname Toad, which is, to put it mildly, ghastly. This genus consists of seven species of toad, all found around Panama and Columbia, and is distinguished by two things. Firstly, its extreme ugliness, and secondly, the fact that it has a truly repulsive method of child rearing. They have no tongues, no teeth, and, unlike most other frogs, cannot adopt an upright posture – instead, they simply splay out over the ground. Another interesting fact about this group of toads is that some species have lateral line organs, which are usually found in fish and used to detect water motion. In addition, they have been described as looking – as all pipa toads look in repose – as though she had been dead for some weeks and was already partially decomposed.”

As seen here – I am honestly unsure if this is when its live or dead (image credit: wikimedia commons)

It should be noted that the above was written by Gerald Durrell, a noted naturalist and conservationist who wrote books all about the majesty of nature. When someone like that can’t make you sound good, the best PR agency in the world can’t help you.

So, admittedly, they look terrible, but what justifies inclusion on this list?

Well, in nature as in civilisation, keeping track of one’s children is hard. This is especially the case if one lives in a jungle, and has about a hundred eggs to keep track off. Also, one hasn’t invented creches, babysitters, or those weird child carrying rucksacks, because one is a frog. The Suriname Toad has a very simple solution to this problem – she simply keeps the eggs, and later the tadpoles, on her back. To make sure they don’t fall off, the eggs sink into the skin immediately after mating (which is itself a long, complex and torturous process – check out the above link if you want to learn more about strange frog sex). The young then develop in these holes, and around a hundred days later (although this varies quite a bit, both between species and between individuals, but however long it is it is far too long to have tadpoles living in your back), the young froglets emerge – although it seems that the mother can use pressure to force them out. There is no word on what happens when one of these offspring has a messy breakup and can’t find a job.

Yup, this is exactly what frogs living in their mother’s skin look like, and that might be one of the creepiest sentences I’ve ever written. (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Number Four is an honorary mention, since the poor beast is now extinct. Now, so called ‘scientists’ might blame ‘habitat degradation’ and ‘chytridomycosis’ (a rather horrific disease caused by a fungus that is responsible for massive declines in amphibian species worldwide). However, our ‘voices in our heads’ tell us that this extinction was probably caused by the fact that this species stopped breeding after realising what their breeding process involved.

You see, the species Rheobatrachus silus and R. vitellinus are also known as gastric brooding frogs for reasons that are sadly obvious. Acting as if the Greek myths about the origins of various Gods were actually a manual, the female would swallow her eggs once they had been externally fertilised by the male, in order to incubate them inside the stomach. No, not in a place that looked like the stomach – actually in her stomach. How useful this method actually was for keeping her offspring safe is unclear, as despite laying up to forty eggs, the maximum number of juveniles actually found inside the stomach was only around twenty, meaning that either she got full after swallowing about half of them, or the first half were digested. It is thought that the mucus surrounding the eggs contained a chemical (prostaglandin) which turned off hydrochloric acid production.

Obviously, since her belly was filled with her children the mother no longer ate, and she kept up this gastric brooding for up to 43 days, which top biologists say is 45 days too long. Over time, as the frogs developed, the mother’s stomach would become full, and her lungs would be compressed, leading to her obtaining oxygen primarily via her skin. At the end of six weeks, the offspring would slowly emerge over a period of about a week – unless, of course, the female was disturbed, in which case the entire brood would be ejected. Just imagine that scene from The Exorcist, and you have an idea.

And this is why I never go to cheap, all you can eat buffets. (Image credit Dailytech.com)

But don’t worry. Your children might possibly have a chance to actually see this in real life, as work is continuing on resurrecting these animals. And you, in turn, can tell them that although you may have messed them up in many ways, at least you never vomited them up.

Number three on the list is also an amphibian. Look, I have nothing against amphibians. Its just that when it comes to mothers that care in all the wrong ways, they do tend to be somewhat over-represented. And in all likelihood, you’ve never heard of these.

Here’s what an amphibian worm looks like, and its even worse than you’d think. (Image credit: Beforeitsnews.com)

Ceacilians (order: Gymnophiona) could easily be mistaken for large earthworms, and can be as long as 1.5 metres long. They live mostly underground, which is why a lot about these animals is still unknown. Found all over the tropics, three species in this groupMicrocaecilia dermatophaga, Siphonops annulatus and Boulengerula taitanus practise what is called ‘maternal dermalphagy’, which basically mean they eat their mother’s skin – indeed, the name of the M. dermatophaga basically means ‘small skin eating ceacilian’.

Originally, scientists didn’t quite realise this, and thought that the fact that baby caecilians have infantile teeth, and clustered around their mothers, meant that they fed on secretions from her – a bit like milk drinking in mammal infants. But, as ever in science, the truth was far, far worse. The infant caecilians actually use these teeth to strip the skin from their mothers and feed on it. And, just to put you off your lunch even more, S. annulatus apparently ‘drinks secretions from the mother’s cloaca’. Now, normally I would do a lot more research to see what purpose this serves, but this time I think I’ll leave it as a homework assignment for you lot. Please, if you find out the answer, keep it to yourself. Its important, of course, not to judge other people’s parenting strategies, and the ceacilians have been around for 250 million years, surviving several mass extinctions in the process. So they must be doing something right. Intriguingly, the three species that exhibit this skin eating behaviour are only distantly related, suggesting that this adaptation has either risen, or been lost, multiple times.

Also, bony plates cover their eyes so they are blind. Anyway, here’s another picture. (Image credit: Featuredcreature.com)

But, of course, for the really most disturbing animal parenting strategies, you have to go and look at the arthropods, and it should be absolutely no surprise to anything that it is the spiders which have taken ‘self sacrifice’ to its logical extreme, where the infant spiders, on a routine basis, consume their own mother.

“We save a fortune on Mother’s Day cards”. The pale dots are the infant spiders – I think. Frankly I didn’t want to look too closely

There are several spiders which practice this matriophagy, including Diaea ergandros, Amaurobius ferox Chirocanthium japonica and Stegodyphus lineatus. In the case of the latter, the mother feeds the offspring with regurgitated good first, only later allowing herself to be eaten alive. What is even stranger is that the mother’s body begins to break down even before the eggs hatch – part of the regurgitated fluid, for instance, is thought to be formed of the products of this break down. Furthermore, the ovaries are one of the last bits to break down entirely – so if her eggs don’t hatch for whatever reason, the spider can lay more eggs that will hatch into children that will devour her.

But why do the mothers allow themselves to be eaten? Well, the theory is that it gives the young spiders a headstart in life – and in nature, the only thing that matters is that your DNA survives to be copied down the generations. In the case of S. lineatus, this behavior is almost essential to offspring survival, whilst in C. japonica it significantly increases the likelihood of the offspring surviving. The same is true in A. ferox, where matriopahgy allows the young spiders to leave the nest with greater body weight. Overall, in some spider species, it seems that the best way for the mother to have the greatest reproductive success is not to have several breeding events, but to have one, extremely terminal, one.

Although if you use any of the above information to get out of sending your mum a mother’s day card, I really can’t take responsibility. Just bear in mind some animals, when times are hard, eat their own offspring.

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