Biology: Generosity Among the Animal Kingdom
Generosity in the Animal Kingdom
Most of us have been raised to believe that we have all evolved to be selfish. Many societies define "selfishness" as evil whereas in face, evil and good are merely the result of our upbringing. There is in fact no single "good" or "evil". This misconception can be attributed largely to religious groups.
The animal kingdom provides many examples of species evolved to be generous. While it is true that selfishness does often give an individual a better chance of survival such as hogging the food, mate, and habitat, but equally so can generosity help ensure the survival of the group. These species thus have a complex social structure.
Natural selection is powered by the survival of an organism that is easier than the rest and is able to reproduce and pass on the genes. Altruistic behavior evolved to ensure the survival of the group rather than the individual.
Honey Bee Social Organization
Includes a Queen, workers, drones. The job of the queen is to lay eggs, the workers to search and collect nectar/pollen, make wax and honey, and feed/protect the young, and the drones mate with the queen. Social organization is also influenced by diet. The type of food determines whether a larvae will mature into a worker or queen. All males however become drones. Queens secrete a pheromone which inhibits ovarian development of the other females
- Lays eggs
- Produces pheromones which blocks ovarian growth in other workers-
- Feed larvae
- Produce honey/wax
- Search for nectar/pollen
- Protect hive
- Mate with queen
The most well adapted survive and the rest die. The workers have no influence on the gene pool because only the queen produces offspring. At the colony level, the genes are not chosen to promote the individual, but the entire colony such as the genes which control the behavior of the workers, genes for finding nectar, genes for taking care of the young. It appears the workers don’t influence the colon, but the workers have the same genes as the queen, so they’re actually ensuring the survival of their own genes.
They live in a habitat with coyotes and hawks. When a predator approaches, they make a loud squeal which alerts the group of the danger. The squirrel which did the alerting has a lower survival chance because they are using themselves to divert attention away from the predators and unsurprisingly, if their relatives are all dead, they realize that risking themselves as bait would not benefit the group so they remain quiet.
Naked Mole Rats
Mole rats live in groups of about 100. The workers dig burrows and chambers as well as collect food. The sexual behavior of males males are blocked unless she is ovulating. The best food is given to the queen and if there is a predator like a snake, the workers sacrifice themselves so the young can live. This and the honey bees are examples of kin selection where individuals would rather the group survive.
Vampire bats regurgitate consumed blood/insects for the members of their family who did not find sufficient food.