The varied diet of elephants and bird divorce

Brown University researchers studied the eating habits of two groups of Kenyan elephants. These animals differed in their diet not only depending on the availability of food but also, it is assumed, on their needs and mood. An elephant’s diet “may depend on what kind of animal it is or what stage of life it’s in,” so elephants change it daily, just like humans. The reason for the varied diet in elephants appears to be a mix of food availability and personal preference. In this way, these mammals supplement the missing nutrients and look for compounds that cleanse their bodies of the chemicals contained in the food they eat most often. Researchers have established the elephants’ eating habits by sequencing plant DNA in their faeces.

Monogamous birds change partners for reasons similar to humans – they may “divorce” due to the promiscuity of males or long periods of separation due to long migrations. Over 90% of bird species generally have one mate for at least one breeding season. According to scientists from the Max Planck Society, however, some monogamous birds change their partner for the next breeding season, even though their previous partner remains alive. Researchers call this behaviour “divorce”. Plovers, swallows, martins, orioles, and blackbirds most commonly practise it. The faithful petrels, albatrosses, geese and swans are the opposite.

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