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Let’s take a brief moment to state the obvious: animals copulate. They have offspring. Some of which are, by generalized human standards, cute. Others are ugly ducklings. Unless you happen to work in a specific field where knowing as much about all things living on this planet is part of the job (zoologists, ecologists and ornithologists, we’re looking at you), the exact details of animal reproduction isn’t something you’re probably spending much time pondering.
Even if your train of thought as it applies to animals like raccoons is one of consternation over their ability to pry the lid off your outdoor garbage can, there is something striking about an x-ray of a pregnant raccoon mother.
Or the surreal visual of one of nature’s stealthiest hunters, the boa constrictor, along with its unborn brood that can number close to sixty.
The black and white perspective animal x-rays provide isn’t limited to purely medical study, either. Medical physicist and artist Arie van ’t Riet doesn’t feature pregnant mothers-to-be in his artwork, but his x-ray photographs still offer a look at animals from the inside out that is rarely seen.
Maybe this will act as a little reminder that the natural world, on so many levels, is beyond impressive. Thankfully, we’ve got the technology and imagery to prove it.
Pregnant Guinea Pig
A guinea pig pregnancy lasts an average of 65 days. Female offspring will usually reach sexual maturity within three to four weeks after birth.
Female boas give birth to as many as 60 live babies at a time.
A pregnant chinchilla
Achinchilla’s gestation period is 111 days, longer than most rodents. Due to this long pregnancy, chinchillas are born fully furred and with eyes open.
Newborn raccoons are blind and deaf for the first three weeks after they are born. Their mother will care for them until after the first winter, when they’ll gradually leave.
Mothers and fathers are known to laugh and play with their young. Among most groups of monkeys, babies inherit their social status
from their mothers.
The average fawn has roughly 300 spots, which camouflages it from predators. A doe will lick her fawns to give them her scent so that she can keep track of them.
When mating, hawks grab hold of one another in mid-air and freefall towards the ground. Some hawks are monogamous, and may mate with the same partner for their whole lives.
No really “pregnant”, but you get the idea.
A pregnant bearded dragon
Can you spot the babies? In the wild, a bearded dragon may live up to 8 or 9 years, if not eaten as prey. In captivity, with good care, they will generally live 10 to 12 years. With exemplary care they can live as long as 12 to 14 years, and rarely beyond that
If a dog’s temperature drops, it’s usually a sign that they’re about to give birth. Like humans, dogs can experience morning sickness.
Kittens are always born with blue eyes. Their final eye color is determined a few months after birth. The technical name for a litter
is actually called an intrigue of kittens.
This of course is not an x-ray but an ultrasound scan with added outlines that help see the shark babies.
A baby elephant, again an ultrasound scan, not x-ray.
To lay their eggs, mothers return to the same beach where they were born. A mother’s eggs may be the product of several different
fathers, ensuring genetic diversity.
Bats are known to fly in swarms and perform aerial acrobatics in a unique mating ritual. Baby bats are called pups, and and they’re reared in groups with assistance from other mothers.
Pregnant Tree Skink
Although most species of skinks are oviparous, laying eggs in clutches. Many species are ovoviviparous, the young developing lecithotrophically in eggs that hatch inside the mother’s reproductive tract, and emerging as live births.
The oviparous species lay eggs three to six weeks after copulation. The female will dig a hole — from 10–30 cm (4–12 in), deep depending on the species — and deposit her eggs.
X-ray machine for animals
And this my friend, this is how such animal x-rays are taken. Now you know.