The young of species that are helpless in their infancy need an advantage to persuade others to care for them and meet their needs for food, shelter and nurture. Cuteness works for many species.
Others, made for immediate independence come into the world as miniature adults. Scrub turkeys receive no parental care beyond incubation.
Still others begin in one form and transition to another. Larvae for instance. They hatch, eat, transform during pupation and emerge as adults. It’s not an aspect of their life cycle the Iththuuk have told us humans much about. They haven’t mentioned either that their females can choose not to lay their eggs until they have a suitable time and location. If a female retaining her eggs dies though, then all the eggs get laid at once. Which is how the local police station wound up with a dead female Iththuuk and twenty Iththuuk eggs.
The two groups of Iththuuk had been brought in after a brawl between them, the female in question had refused medical treatment several times, then she suddenly dies and there are eggs everywhere. Her co-accused didn’t seem to care and the Iththuuk consulate, if that’s what they are, didn’t supply more than temperature, incubation period and that they eat vegetable matter and carrion. Oh, and Terran foodstuffs should be fine.
After the eggs hatched the police contacted a whole lot of people in the local area including the green guy and me. (When the green guy writes these things he calls me “the hot goth chick” but that’s still better than if he used my name.) The police needed help getting in food for the Iththuuk larvae because they were voracious eaters. The green guy and I hit the Markets early every day for the offcuts and stuff. A couple of the supermarkets delivered their use by expired stuff. If the larvae ran out of food they started hissing at each other and the police didn’t like that and I can’t blame them because I didn’t like that sound either.
When the larvae got to the length and diameter of a ten year old child, they pupated. Went from a room full of constant munching, off-white grubs to a silent set of brownish…parcels in about three hours. The police cleaned out the uneaten food, maintained the temperature and waited.
The green guy and I were there when the mother’s boss arrived from off world. We’d heard that movement had been seen inside the pupae and we’d dropped in for a look. The boss must have been someone important because he had two of his own people and a translator with him. What we heard as they came into the room was, “-duty to take responsibility for the survivors.”
“Survivors?” The police inspector was taken aback. “But none of them died, well not yet.”
There was some excited talk among the Iththuuk and then the translator said, “Our larvae are unintelligent and lead brutal existences. Ten to twenty-five per cent survive to emerge from the pupae.”
“They were left in our care,” said the inspector in the tone of someone who doesn’t know if he’s done something wrong, “So we cared for them.”
Whatever the Iththuuk might have been going to say in reply was cut off by a snapping crack as the first of the pupae began to split open.