Care of the Young

Many instincts and dawning intelligence seem to center around the care of the young. Distinctive secondary modifications in the female have to do largely with this function. It has its beginnings in the unconscious equipment of eggs with nutritive materials and in, the provision by the female of a sheltering uterus or brood sac of some kind. Later in evolution parental care may take the form of building nests in which to incubate eggs after they have been laid, and of behavior that supplements the helplessness of the newly hatched or born.

In higher animals there is a prolonged period of dependence upon the parents, after hatching or birth, which makes “schooling” possible through association with the parents. The relation is a reciprocal one, for the child or offspring is an educator as well as the parent. Cooperation, not competition, is the key to family life exhibited by man and the higher animals. In this way the traditions and acquired wisdom are handed on among animals as soon as an adequate vehicle by way of brain equipment is elaborated for it.

The lower animals, on the other hand, never have any schooling. They are supplied once for all with a single “box of tricks,” or instincts, and as soon as they come into the world they know as much as their parents or as much as they need to know to fill their niche in nature. They never can experience the joy of learning from their parents or others of their kind and in the majority of instances they never even encounter their parents.

A prolonged dependence upon parental care is a mark of superiority, since it furnishes the soil in which budding intelligence may grow and flourish.

The dominance of mankind is correlated with the fact that the education involved in family life is extended over relatively so long a time. In the case of modern man, children do not gain independence from their parents, in the most fortunate instances, until at least one third of the entire span of life is past.