Lactation is a mammalian attribute, and the few known nonmammal examples have distinctly different modalities. We document here milk provisioning in a jumping spider, which compares functionally and behaviorally to lactation in mammals. The spiderlings ingest nutritious milk droplets secreted from the mother’s epigastric furrow until the subadult stage. Milk is indispensable for offspring survival in the early stages and complements their foraging in later stages. Maternal care, as for some long-lived vertebrates, continues after the offspring reach maturity. Furthermore, a female-biased adult sex ratio is acquired only when the mother is present. These findings demonstrate that mammal-like milk provisioning and parental care for sexually mature offspring have also evolved in invertebrates, encouraging a reevaluation of their occurrence across the animal kingdom, especially in invertebrates.
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Natural Sciences in General