Unrelated adult coatis (a raccoon-like animal from south America) help juveniles steal from their relatives, a new study suggests. This kind of “turning on kin” behavior isn’t well documented in the animal kingdom, the researchers said.
"No previously published model of animal behavior would have predicted that young juvenile coatis should regularly attack and steal food from older relatives," study researcher Ben Hirsch, of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, said in a statement.
Once they noticed this behavior, the researchers wanted to know how closely the coatis performing this act were related. The new genetic analysis found that the juveniles were sometimes attacking their own kin and often received help from unrelated adults.
"Additionally, the pattern that adult females come to the aid of these non-related juveniles really flies in the face of what we thought," Hirsch said. "What we have described is a quasi-cooperative behavior that is evidently not kin based."…
(read more: Live Science) (photo: Smithsonian’s National Zoo)