oh noes meerkitties!

they’s inbreeding too much!:

Meerkat survival ‘threatened by inbreeding’

Researchers spent 20 years studying data from almost 2,000 meerkats living in clans in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert.

They found almost half of the animals showed some evidence of inbreeding.

Meerkat pups that are inbred are smaller, lighter and less likely to survive in the wild than their counterparts….

Newborn pups were weighed and measured, their DNA analysed and their parentage determined.

The researchers found that 44% of the meerkats studied showed some evidence of inbreeding.

In the wild, the desert mammals live in clans of up to 50 individuals, where subordinate adults help parents care for their offspring [altruism].

The scientists’ work showed that closely related meerkats never breed with each other [westermarck], but that inbreeding occurred between more distantly related individuals who were unfamiliar with one another, perhaps because they lived in separate groups….

i sooo wish one of these researchers would look at genetic relatedness and kin selection/altruism in these meerkats. i’ve been wishing that for a long time now, but i didn’t know if they had the genetic data or not. now i know they do. come on, researchers! please?

research article: Inbreeding and inbreeding depression of early life traits in a cooperative mammal

(note: comments do not require an email. super-altruistic meerkitty. *sniff*)