Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Infanticide in Nonhumans

  • Mateo Peñaherrera-AguirreEmail author
  • Aurelio José Figueredo
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3047-1



A set of aggressive behaviors destined toward the elimination of younglings, usually a dependent infant or hatchling. The attacker often obtains a fitness benefit by targeting the offspring of conspecifics. Due to the costs associated with losing a youngling, parents often employ an array of physiological and behavioral tactics to decrease the risk of infanticide.


Although nowadays research on nonhuman infanticide has lost most of its controversial nature, three decades ago studies on this subject generated heated debate concerning the adaptive function of eliminating infants (Sommer 2000). Due to the costs associated with producing and rearing offspring, killing younglings was interpreted as a pathological behavior with no apparent adaptive benefits. This...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mateo Peñaherrera-Aguirre
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aurelio José Figueredo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Catherine Salmon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of RedlandsRedlandsUSA