Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 9–15

Armed sibling rivalry among suckling piglets

  • David Fraser
  • B. K. Thompson

DOI: 10.1007/BF00164289

Cite this article as:
Fraser, D. & Thompson, B.K. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1991) 29: 9. doi:10.1007/BF00164289


A piglet's most precious possession Is the teat that he fattens his flesh on. He fights for his teat with tenacity Against any sibling's audacity. The piglet, to arm for this mission, Is born with a warlike dentition Of eight tiny tusks, sharp as sabres, Which help in impressing the neighbors; But to render these weapons less harrowing, Most farmers remove them at farrowing. We studied pig sisters and brothers When some had their teeth, but not others. We found that when siblings aren't many, The weapons help little if any, But when there are many per litter, The teeth help their owners grow fitter. But how did selection begin To make weapons to use against kin?

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Fraser
    • 1
  • B. K. Thompson
    • 2
  1. 1.Animal Research CentreAgriculture CanadaCanada
  2. 2.Research Program ServiceAgriculture CanadaCanada

Personalised recommendations