Research on the Atlantic grey seal shows the fastest known transition to mature milk after birth

Issued: Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:06:00 GMT

700x300 - attribution ‘Young Grey Seal With Large Adult Behind’ by Steenbergs, licensed at CC BY 2.0, available at www.Flickr com

Research by scientists from the University of Glasgow and Strathclyde University shows that the transition from colostrum to main phase lactation in the Atlantic grey seal is the shortest yet recorded for any species of mammal.

The research led by Professor Malcolm Kennedy follows-on from an earlier paper on giant pandas, which found that they took as long as 40 days after birth for them to begin to produce mature phase milk – the longest transition time yet recorded for mammals.

A new study published in Scientific Reports shows exactly the opposite – the fastest known transition to mature milk after birth in the Atlantic grey seal.

The team also reported on molecules found in the milk that indicate the metabolic strain of using so much fat by the mothers to raise their pups, which may induce them to abruptly wean and leave their pups after as little as 20 days.

Read the full paper