Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Offspring Defense

  • Stacy RosenbaumEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1904-1



Protecting progeny against threats that may cause resource loss, bodily harm, or death


In most species, the risk of extrinsic mortality (mortality due to external forces such as predation) is much higher for young than it is for adults. Young organisms are generally slower, smaller, and, due to inexperience, less skilled at navigating the world around them than adults are. While this is the case for nearly all species, it is particularly true for species which have altricial (as opposed to precocial) young. This includes humans, whose infants are considerably less neurologically and behaviorally developed at birth than the neonates of most other primates (Freedman 2016). They are entirely reliant on older caretakers for all of their basic needs, including protection.

In many species, there is considerable selective pressure on one or both parents to protect their offspring from threats of all kinds. By...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Gary L Brase
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA