Juvenile boobies are likely to become bullies if they are bullied by older birds while nesting, researchers from Wake Forest University found.
The researchers studied the behavior of Nazca boobies in South America and found that chicks mistreated by older birds when their parents left would also grow up to be violent toward young birds.
This study is significant because it’s the first time an animal besides humans was found to pass abuse through generations.
One reason why violence breaks out so much among these birds is that they live in densely populated areas.
This is how Discovery Magazine puts it:
When parent birds leave their nests to eat, baby boobies are often visited by sexually and physically abusive non-breeding adults; the chicks, when grown, are more likely to abuse unrelated chicks.
The birds tend to perpetuate the “cycle of violence” found in humans. Scientists say it is further proof that child abuse is socially transmitted rather than a genetic trait.
It is attributed to the fact that the stress hormone corticosterone increases dramatically during incidents of bullying. This has long-term effects on the birds and escalates violent behavior.
Nazca boobies are found in the eastern Pacific where they nest on the Galapagos and travel to Clipperton Island.