Monogamous relationships in the animal kingdom are rare, it's true, but a few do exist. Today, I thought we'd look at a few species that do mate for life.
1. Swans - You've probably noticed that when swans put their beaks together, they form a heart. Swans form monogamous pair bonds that last for many years, and in some cases, these bonds can last for life. Sounds romantic, right? But it is really more about the survival of the species than love or sense of attachment. "When you factor in the amount of time swans need to migrate, establish territories, incubate, and raise their young, it makes sense that they wouldn't want to waste any extra time attracting a new mate each season."
2. Wolves - While this species might not spring to mind first, wolves are loyal to their mate for life. "Most wolf "families" consist of a male, a female, and their pups. Just like a human family. Alpha males share dominance within the pack with their alpha female, except during mating season, when the alpha female is in charge."
3. Albatross - Humans think of these only in terms of something weighty that "hangs around their neck." While many bird species mate for life, the albatross takes things up a notch by learning "advanced moves to keep the romance alive with their mate. From a young age, albatrosses learn how to woo their mates using an elaborate system of preening, pointing, rattling, bowing, and dancing. They may try these moves out with many partners, but once they pick "the one," they are faithful mates for life."
4. Gibbons is next up on our list - "Gibbons are our closest animal relatives that mate with their partners for life. Males and females are roughly the same size, making grooming and relaxing together a comfortable fit. New research shows that there may be some philandering going on within gibbons packs, but overall, pairs stay together for a lifetime."
5. French Angelfish - Most humans think of the French generally as great lovers. And the French angelfish are no exception. These fish are very rarely—if ever—alone. "They form close, monogamous pairs from a young age and then do everything with their mate for the rest of their lives. They live, travel and hunt in pairs and will even defend their ocean territory against neighboring pairs of fish."
6. Turtle Doves - These birds always come in two. I guess that's why they are often released at weddings. These birds mate for life. Their faithfulness even inspired Shakespeare, who wrote about them in his poem, The Phoenix and the Turtle. And let's not forget the holiday classic, The Twelve days of Christmas. It's always two turtle doves.
7. Prairie Voles - These cuties are romantic rodents. "Most rodents are not monogamous by nature, but prairie voles are the exception to the rule. They form lifelong pair bonds with their partners and spend their lives nesting, grooming, mating with, and supporting their mates. In fact, they are often used as the model for faithful monogamous relationships in nature."
And this last one will no doubt come as a HUGE surprise!
8. Termites - Yep. Termites. "When one thinks of faithful animal couples, one doesn't usually call to mind termites, but that's just what they are. Unlike ants, where the queen mates once with a male or several males before their death, termite queens mate with one termite "king" throughout their lives. Thus, entire termite colonies are really just a mom dad and thousands of their offspring." Awww...aren't they an adorable family? Okay, maybe not.
You might have noticed that frogs are not on this list. And it's true that, in general terms, frogs are not the most monogamous of creatures. But in their defense, I would like to say that all of my family, from my parents to my aunts and uncles, and including my grandparents, have all mated for life and remain happily together to this day.
This morning may have had a rough start to it, but all's well that ends well, eh?
I hope you'll plan on joining me back here tomorrow for a look at two English words that can be very confusing. Until then, I wish you