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Innocent-Looking Meerkats Named as Most 'Murderous' Mammal Known to Science

Sep 29, 2016 04:07 AM EDT
Meerkats made it to the first spot on the list of the top mammals that are most likely to kill members of their species.
(Photo : Jeremy O'Donnell/Getty Images)

A new study reveals that meerkats, despite being known to work well in groups, is probably the most murderous mammal in the planet.

The study, published in the journal Nature, showed that 19.4 percent of all meerkat deaths were caused by another meerkat. The murder rate among meerkats is even nearly 10 percent higher than the larger brown bear, 9.7 percent.

"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]," said lead author Dr José María Gómez, of Granada University in Spain, in a report from Independent.

The murderous capabilities of meerkats are not relatively new in the scientific community. In 2006, National Geography reported a study that observed that pregnant dominant female in a group of meerkats will often kill any litters born from other female. Other female meerkats within a social group were also observed killing the pups of other females to secure better resources for their own offsprings.

Following meerkats in the most murderous mammal rankings is the red-tailed monkey with 18.2 percent of deaths counted as murders. Interestingly, New Zealand sea lions are more likely to kill members of their own species compared to actual lions, 15.3 percent and 13.3 percent respectively.

Other mammals that made it to the top ten include blue monkeys with 17.7 percent, red-fronted lemur and mongoose lemur with 16.7 percent, black lemur with 15.4 percent, long-tailed marmot with 14.6 percent, banded mongoose with 13.1 percent and grey wolf with 12.8 percent.

Lion is not the only member of the cat family to have a high murder rate. Among the large cats, puma follows lion's murder rate with 11.7 percent, which is slightly higher than the snow leopard's 11.1 percent. The only middle-sized cat that made it to the list of murderous mammals is the caracal with 10 percent.

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