In groups of a social mammal, the banded mongoose, the majority of pups each form a stable exclusive association with an adult group member (its 'escort') that is its principal care provider.

In spite of pups within the communal litter being closely related, each pup aggressively defends access to its escort, preventing other pups approaching, and therefore monopolises the care provided by its escort.

The distribution of care from parents and helpers to young is therefore due to competitive actions of the young rather than preference of the adults. Conflict is as rife as cooperation in this social mammal.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Proceedings B is the Royal Society's flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication and broad dissemination of high-quality research papers, reviews and comment and reply papers. The scope of journal is diverse and is especially strong in organismal biology.


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