On Sunday, phone lines across the world will be their busiest—if we all remember to call our mothers. But we’re hardly the only creatures with good reason to celebrate our moms. We’ve searched the Popular Science archives to give you a roundup of stories featuring heroic mothers from across the animal world.
The moms who really give parenting their all
She may look fierce, but her children will soon devour her
For the wriggling offspring of the Taita Hills caecilian, there’s no better taste than mom’s peeling skin. These land-dwelling, legless amphibians—found in the forests of southern Kenya—rip off the thick, protein-packed layer with gusto. By the time her kids are done feasting, mama caecilian will lose more than a tenth of her body weight.
Then there’s the mother desert spider, whose sacrifice for her brood goes more than skin-deep. Once the hatchlings emerge, she spits up her own meals to feed her children. Pretty tame, until the digestive enzymes that come up with her puke eat away at her insides. She’ll continue to feed and protect her young for the next two weeks while the enzymes from her stomach kill her from the inside out. But the baby spiders won’t let the corpse go to waste—they’ll gobble up what remains of mom before setting out on their own.