14 Sep 2012

Male killer whales big mummy's boys

9:21 pm on 14 September 2012

New research shows that killer whales are actually mummy's boys.

Scientists writing in the journal Science say that adult males stay for life with their mothers, as without them they struggle to survive.

While males tend to die after 40 years, females often live into their 90s.

The scientists believe that longevity is due to the mothers looking after their offspring for so long, the BBC reports.

Dr Darren Croft, from the University of Exeter, says the loss of its mother can have a major impact on a male killer whale.

"It the whale is a male and his mother's just died, there's a huge increase in his mortality. If the male's over 30, the risk is almost 14-fold an increase in his dying the following year."