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A nidicolous animal (// ny-DIK-ə-ləs; from Latin nidus "nest" and -colus "inhabiting") is an animal that stays at its birthplace for a long time because it depends on the parents for food, protection, and the learning of survival skills. They are the opposite of nidifugous species, which leave their parents more quickly and survive independently.
Two other terms are also used by scientists for related developmental phenomena: altricial (relatively undeveloped at birth or hatching; helpless, blind, without feathers or hair, and unable to fend for themselves) and precocial (relatively developed at birth or hatching; able to fend for themselves). Although there is much overlap between altricial and nidicolous species, the terms are not identical. All altricial animals are nidicolous by necessity, but an animal may be nidicolous, such as staying at the nest, even if it is precocial and fully capable of leaving if needed. Examples of precocious but nidicolous species include many gulls and terns.
Examples of nidicolous species are most mammals and many species of birds. The majority of nidicolous animals are altricial. During the life span, the brain of a nidicolous animal expands 8–10 times its initial size; in nidifugous animals, from 1.5 to 2.5 times.
- Ehrlich, P. R., Dobkin, D. S., & Wheye, D. (1988). The birder's handbook: A field guide to the natural history of North American birds: including all species that regularly breed north of Mexico. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 582
- Starck, J. (1998). Avian Growth and Development. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510608-3.
- Ehrlich, Paul R.; Dobkin, David; Wheye, Darryl (1988). "Precocial and altricial young". web.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
- Grene, M. (1974). The understanding of nature: Essays in the philosophy of biology. Dordrecht: Reidel Pub.
- Sutter, E. (1951). Growth and differentiation of the brain in nidifugous and nidicolous birds. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell.
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