baby mammal

Humans Are Weird (Pregnancy and Babies)

“Humans are weird” post! What if all aliens actually hatch from eggs and our planet is the only one in the universe that has mammals on it. For an alien, the shell of their egg is a bit like their birth certificate because it’s the proof that they were born, so it’s extremely important for them. To study the development of certain species, they sometimes have to ask some specimen of that species to show them their shell. But then, they visit Earth and meet humans…

Alien: Good morning Human-Nate. I am Xers, an eggshell specialist. In order to study your species development, I need you to show me the shell of the egg that you hatched from. Don’t worry, I am a professional. I can guarantee that you will have it back in the same state as it was when you entrusted it to me.
Human: hummmm, I’m sorry but I don’t have any eggshell to show you…..
Alien: Could it be that you lost it? If so, please excuse me for my previous request. I am sorry if you thought that it was a rude of me.
Human: Don’t apologize, it’s fine! *nervous hand gesture* I didn’t lose it or anything. It’s just that I never had one in the first place. Humans do not hatch from eggs.
Alien: W-what? They don’t?! Then how?
Human: Well, to put it short, the baby grows inside of the mother’s uterus for 9 months and then, when they are ready, they just…come out…by another part of the the mother’s reproductive system.
Alien: Directly from the uterus? With no shell or protection?! Baby humans actually SURVIVE this?!
Human: Yup, and I am the living proof! *laughs*
Alien: …..what the hell is wrong with your species.

To learn more about what humans call “pregnancy”, Xers went to see a pregnant woman and asked her questions about the singular gestation process of “mammals”. After a few minutes, the woman chuckled softly and put a hand on her round belly.

Alien: *worried* Human-Kate, are you alright?
Human: It’s nothing. I just felt a small kick from her. *chuckles*
Alien:….Did your growing organism just ATTACK YOU?!

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Unlike seals, whales, and other such marine mammals, sea otters do not have blubber (a thick layer of subcutaneous fat) to keep themselves warm in cold ocean waters.  Instead, sea otters are insulated by a remarkable coat of fur.  At 150,000 strands of hair for each square centimeter of skin, the sea otter’s fur is the densest of any animal in the world, and keeps cold water from even touching the animal’s skin.  The fur must be kept scrupulously clean in order to retain its insulating properties, and so sea otters spend a great deal of their time grooming and washing.  Their skin is so loose that the otter can easily reach and groom every square inch of its body.  The fur will also trap air bubbles between the outer “guard” layer and the undercoat, which not only helps keep the otter warm but will aid in buoyancy.  In fact, a newborn sea otter’s fur will retain so much air that, after careful grooming by its mother, the baby literally cannot sink; it bobs in the water like a cork.

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20 orphaned African elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (@dswt) just outside Nairobi, Kenya

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Sea otters are extraordinarily devoted mothers.  Female sea otters will carry their pups on their chests, constantly grooming their fur to make sure the pup stays warm and buoyant.  She will leave her baby only to find food, and will wrap the pup in kelp to make sure it stays safe and in one place.  Her milk, rich in fat like that of whales or seals, sustains her baby for up to six months in southern populations, or up to a year in northern areas.  If the pup dies, the mother will continue to carry the little corpse for days following its death.  Female sea otters have also been recorded adopting orphaned pups.

On the other extreme, however, if conditions become particularly harsh a mother sea otter may abandon her pup.  In particular, on the rare occasion that a sea otter gives birth to twins, the weaker pup may be abandoned to ensure the survival of its sibling.

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One of last year’s baby pandas at Chengdu Panda Base, Sichuan China

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Baby sun bears are born blind, hairless, and helpless, and are completely dependent on their mothers for their first three months.  Their mothers will carry them in their mouths or, unusually, by cradling them in their arms while they walk on their hind legs, a behaviour seen in no other bear species.  The cubs nurse from their mother for around 18 months, and will stay with her until they are two years old.  Females are ready to find a mate of their own by the time they are three, and males reach sexual maturity at around four.

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Baby elephant going after spilled milk at bottom of wheelbarrow

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Spotted hyena by Mike Beaumont

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australiaThere’s nothing quite like breakfast in bed on a chilly winter’s morning ☕ Tilly the baby yellow-footed rock wallaby certainly agrees! Tilly lives at the @australianreptilepark in @visitnsw, and at five months old she weighs in at just 430 grams. The team here is providing Tilly with round-the-clock care, feeding her with bottles of specially formulated milk every five hours and ensuring she is kept toasty warm in her knitted pouch. Video: The Australian Reptile Park

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