Skip to main content

Synonyms

Neoteny; Nidicolous

Definition

An immature state of development following birth or hatching that necessitates care by others.

Description

Altricial animals are born in an immature state and unable to care for themselves. Owls, kangaroos, cats, dogs, and humans are examples of altricial species. In contrast, precocial organisms are mobile and independent within hours or days following birth or hatch (e.g., ducks, zebras). Because of the extensive care altricial organisms require, they are usually born as singletons or in small numbers into social groups where there is the opportunity to have more than one caregiver.

Humans require care for a long period of time and reach sexual maturity and adulthood after a long period of postnatal development. The benefit of this lengthy period of immaturity is that the nervous system has an extended period to develop, ultimately resulting in more complexity and greater cognitive ability. Infancy, childhood and adolescence provide humans with...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 949.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 549.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

References

  1. Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development, Youth and Families Board on Children, and National Research Council, Shonkoff, J. P., & Phillips, D. A. (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Eliot, L. (2000). What’s going on in there?: How the brain and mind develop in the first five years of life. New York: Bantam.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Nathanielsz, P. (2001). The prenatal prescription: A state-of-the-art program for optimal prenatal care. New York: Quill.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Thornton, S. (2003). Growing minds: An introduction to children’s cognitive development. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

About this entry

Cite this entry

Sleigh, M. (2011). Altricial. In: Goldstein, S., Naglieri, J.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_100

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_100

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-0-387-77579-1

  • Online ISBN: 978-0-387-79061-9

  • eBook Packages: Behavioral Science

Publish with us

Policies and ethics