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Meerkats Are The Most Murderous Mammals

Photo from Pixabay

Perhaps the best known meerkat is the singing, wise-cracking Timon from the animated movie, “The Lion King.” But scientists have found that cartoons aside, meerkats are the most murderous mammals on the planet.

Researchers from Granada University in Spain showed that despite being able to work well in groups, 19.4% of all meerkat deaths were caused by their own kind. The murder rate among the harmless-looking animals is even 10% higher than that of brown bears, which rates 9.7%, Nature World News reports.

Dr. Jose Maria Gomez, the lead author on the study, expressed surprise at their findings, saying,

It is surprising that a priori cute and pacific animals, like meerkats, marmots and ground squirrels, have high levels of mortality to conspecifics [members of the same species].

The researchers studied over 4 million deaths among 1,024 mammals and compared them with findings in 600 studies of human violence over history until today. Aside from the shocking discovery that meerkats are the most murderous mammals, the study also found that some violent behavior in humans can be traced back to humankind’s dominance in evolution.

That meerkats murder is not news, however. In 2006, a report from National Geographic stated that the dominant female in meerkat groups will often kill the offspring of other females while she is pregnant. Other female meerkats within a group were likewise observed to kill the litters of others in order to ensure their own young have enough resources.

Second to meerkats as the most successful killers are red-tailed monkeys, with 18.2% of deaths chalked down to murder. New Zealand sea lions follow at 15.3%, and lions at 13.3%. Other mammals in the top ten most murderous are blue monkeys (17.7%), red-fronted lemurs and mongoose lemurs (16.7%), black lemurs (15.4%), long-tailed marmots (14.6%), banded mongooses (13.1%) and grey wolves (12.8%).

Lions are not the only large cats known to off their own kind. Among them pumas have an 11.7% murder rate, followed by snow leopards at 11.1%. The caracal is the only mid-sized cat on the list, with a 10% murder rate.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

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