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The role of food in the evolution of maternal and paternal care in avian species

Posted on August 2, 2012 by James Kohl.

Mixed paternity despite high male parental care in great tinamous and other Palaeognathes   Original Research Article  Animal Behaviour, Available online 20 July 2012
Patricia L.R. Brennan

My comment:

The evolution of maternal care and paternal care in mammals is dependent on receptor-mediated events that are directly linked from olfactory/pheromonal input to epigenetic effects on intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance is one means to ensure that beneficial behavioral traits show up in offspring that mature to provide care for their offspring.

Beneficial behavioral traits enable species survival. Is there a model for how transgenerational epigenetic inheritance enables avian species survival that details the contribution of auditory or visual input — one that does not first require classically conditioned responses to chemical stimuli, for example, like those in food odors?  If not, the early ethologists might have missed something else that’s as important as pheromones are to the theory of biological evolution in species from microbes to man: food.

Is there a model for food acquisition that does not involve olfactory input and classically conditioned behavior (e.g., receptor-mediated hormone-driven behavior)? If so, the same model might be used to link maternal and paternal care to avian species survival. If not, why isn’t there a model for that?

What did the early ethologists think was responsible for nutrient acquisition in surviving avian species? Is there a textbook I can read about that and compare what it says to the Nobel Prize winning works of olfactory researchers like Richard Axel and Linda Buck (2004)? I’m becoming concerned for some of today’s ethologists (and most of the remaining behaviorists). What kind of stories about adaptive evolution have they been taught to believe? Why was there no emphasis on food? It makes me hungry just to think of it. What did they think the birds were thinking about; maternal and paternal care?

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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