Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Breast Feeding

  • Prarthana Franklin
  • Anthony A. VolkEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_817-1



Feeding milk to offspring from mother’s breast


An important distinction of mammals from other animal groups is their ability to produce milk to feed their offspring from the mammillary gland. The word mammal is derived from the Latin word “mammilla,” which translates to breast. One would have assumed that Carolus Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy who named the different classes of animals, would have chosen a name for mammals that was inclusive of both the males and females. Perhaps something to do with the other distinguishing features of mammals such as hair and sweat glands. However, Carolus Linneaus allegedly chose the word mammal to depict the importance of offspring feeding from their own mothers’ milk (Schiebinger 1993). Although other animals can also feed their offspring through body secretions (e.g., crop milk in various bird species; Eraud et al. 2008) they do not contain nearly the same rich and varied nutrients as...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven Arnocky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and SciencesNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada