The Hindu: Eating One’s Brother

Eating one’s brother


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Hungry enough to eat your own? Be grateful that you weren’t born as any of these animals, for they have a habit of gulping down members of their family.

We are in an eternal habit of attributing human qualities to animals. Aww…she sings like a koel! For your information, the gentleman koel sings, not the lady. The female’s voice is a non-musical and rather shrill “kiik kiik kiik”. She’s lovely as a peacock, we say. Wait a minute. The lovely peacock is a gent. For that matter, most of the males of the animal kingdom are better looking than the ladies!

We try to save a baby sparrow from the clutches of a ‘cruel’ crow or a cat and then congratulate ourselves on the good deed done. Let’s not pat our backs too soon. Not only does the so-called rescued baby not survive, but the crow or the cat has to hunt another one to get its square meal for the day. So we’ve actually ended up taking two lives. Not too pretty, that.

Animals have different standards of living than we do. Your father or mother didn’t go ahead and eat you raw (or stir fried) when you were being pesky. But many mums and dads of the animal kingdom are not as tolerant as your folks. Let’s check out a few animals that actually eat their little ones or their cute brothers and sisters.

Murrel (the fresh water fish Sanval)

Murrel is a fascinating fish. Both the ma and pa take extreme care of their brood, even if they have to risk their own lives. Dr. Raza H. Tehsin, a naturalist who happens to be my pa, saw a murrel parent jump out of water just to shoo away a hovering bird away from its brood. It landed on ground and somehow managed to wriggle and get into the water again. Though they are fiercely protective parents, they don’t mind having a meal of one of their little babies time to time. Sweet.


Yeah, the infamous black widow who eats her date. She goes out for the evening with the starry eyed boy in love. The boy is much smaller and sometimes, after the date, the girl likes to have meal out of him. Dinner date, wasn’t it? Some wolf spider mums eat their young. And a few young ones, after they are born, even make a meal out of their ma since that is the immediate thing they can get to eat! How hungry can you be?

Sand Tiger Shark

During pregnancy, the larger embryos of this shark eat their little brothers and sisters who get fertilised as eggs in mama’s stomach. It is called ‘intrauterine cannibalism’ or ‘adelphophagy’ which means ‘eating one’s brother.’

You expected that of sharks, didn’t you? Don’t jump to conclusions. In the next part of this article, we’ll look at a few cuddly animals that devour their own kind.

Please note the animals that eat their young take good care of the children they don’t eat. You might recoil, look from your father to your favoured sibling and say, that it is the height of being partial! My friend, who said the world was fair?

The writer is Ex-Hon. Wildlife Warden, Udaipur and author of fiction and non-fiction books. Latest Book: Wild in the Backyard.

2 thoughts on “The Hindu: Eating One’s Brother

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  1. Dear Ma’am The article was indeed too interesting as always.And I never knew that there could be the other point of view too when one saves a baby sparrow from the cruel clutches of a crow or a cat!  

     Regards,Maria Nathdwara Executive Assistant to Raza H. Tehsin

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