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Still Waters

Why infanticide can benefit animals

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Infanticide is a powerful tool in ensuring the survival of a species, researchers are increasingly finding.

It sounds like the cruellest thing of all - mothers and fathers brutally killing their animal offspring.

But for many animal infants, the greatest threat to their survival they face is from their own kind.

"It's not like a predation event, which is quiet," says lion expert Professor Craig Packer.

"During infanticide, it's growling and violent, and really pretty disturbing," he says, describing how adult lions kill cubs. "They bite them on the back of the head, and neck, crushing their abdomens."

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