Big Tad­poles Eat the Lit­tle Ones

If food is scarce, tad­poles use ex­treme methods. Large tad­poles will eat their smaller sib­lings, grow­ing even big­ger. Bi­o­log­i­cally speak­ing, the can­ni­bal­ism makes sense.

Science Illustrated - - NATURE/ HUNTING -

It looks idyl­lic in the spring, when ponds and lakes start to fill with tad­poles, which swim about eat­ing al­gae and other tiny crea­tures. But in re­al­ity, tad­poles par­tic­i­pate in a mer­ci­less race for life and death.

All tad­poles hatch within a few days, and from that very mo­ment, ev­ery­thing is about eat­ing as much as pos­si­ble as quickly as pos­si­ble, so they can be con­verted into frogs or toads and climb ashore – prefer­ably be­fore any of their sib­lings, as tad­poles are not afraid of us­ing dirty tricks, par­tic­u­larly not if times are rough, be­cause the pond is dry­ing up, etc. Un­der such cir­cum­stances, they for­get that they love their sib­lings, turn­ing into can­ni­bals. Some tad­poles are lucky enough to be in slightly big­ger eggs and are hence larger than the rest, and they mer­ci­lessly take ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion, con­sum­ing their smaller peers. This makes them grow still big­ger, af­fect­ing the rest of the fam­ily even more ad­versely. How­ever, the bru­tal be­hav­iour makes sense, as it en­sures that at least some in­di­vid­u­als of the fam­ily sur­vive to re­pro­duce them­selves.

WILD HORI­ZON/GETTY IMAGES & RMI MASSON/GETTY IMAGES

Large tad­poles will not re­frain from con­sum­ing smaller sib­lings.

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