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Animal altruism?

Animal altruism?


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My first impression of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za4uT1ob8qE is that the baboons were being altruistic and benevolent, but is this guess proven or affirmed by science? I sense there's more to this video.

User dekar6279 comments:

They didn't save the impala, they just defended their territory. Moreover, the baboons didn't eat the impala because surrely they were not hungry, animals don't kill if they don't have to eat or to defend something.

I'd love to be enlightened by more videos. Some other examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77pK7D7A6I4, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJzYhxpKYuM,

Yet the hippo appears to capitulate here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LyVnzVVECA


is this guess proven or affirmed by science?

It is a debated topic.

Such altruistic behaviors (toward non-kin) are extremely rare evolutionarily, with some theorists even proposing that they are uniquely human [1].

Experimental evidence indicates that human altruism is a powerful force and is unique in the animal world. [… ] Current gene-based evolutionary theories cannot explain important patterns of human altruism, pointing towards the importance of both theories of cultural evolution as well as gene-culture co-evolution [4].

Yet, similar behavior was observed in chimpanzees:

In addition, we demonstrate similar though less robust skills and motivations in three young chimpanzees [1].

Altruism has evolved under some conditions:

We show that at least one of the four following conditions needs to be fulfilled: direct benefits to the focal individual performing a cooperative act; direct or indirect information allowing a better than random guess about whether a given individual will behave cooperatively in repeated reciprocal interactions; preferential interactions between related individuals; and genetic correlation between genes coding for altruism and phenotypic traits that can be identified. When one or more of these conditions are met, altruism or cooperation can evolve if the cost-to-benefit ratio of altruistic and cooperative acts is greater than a threshold value [2].

Altruism is related to kin selection:

In 1964, Hamilton formalized the idea of kin selection to explain the evolution of altruistic behaviours. Since then, numerous examples from a diverse array of taxa have shown that seemingly altruistic actions towards close relatives are a common phenomenon. Although many species use kin recognition to direct altruistic behaviours preferentially towards relatives, this important aspect of social biology is less well understood theoretically [3].


References:

  1. Warneken F, Tomasello M. Altruistic helping in human infants and young chimpanzees. Science. 2006 Mar 3;311(5765):1301-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1121448. PubMed PMID: 16513986.
  2. Lehmann L, Keller L. The evolution of cooperation and altruism--a general framework and a classification of models. J. Evol. Biol. 2006 Sep;19(5):1365-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01119.x. PubMed PMID: 16910958.
  3. Agrawal AF. Kin recognition and the evolution of altruism. Proc. Biol. Sci. 2001 May 22;268(1471):1099-104. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2001.1611. PubMed PMID: 11375095.
  4. Fehr E, Fischbacher U. The nature of human altruism. Nature. 2003 Oct 23;425(6960):785-91. doi: 10.1038/nature02043. PubMed PMID: 14574401.

I would argue that the behaviors you saw in these are not altruistic.

Baboons will aggressively defend their territories against predators. For example, watch this baboon chase a female lion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ebd36p4zkw

The baboon eventually loses but only when the lion gets help. I'd say the baboons were just chasing away the cheetah and the hyenas as a matter of self defense. The antelope just got lucky.

The same applies for the elephant. It doesn't really approach the buffalo and lion. The lion runs off soon after the elephant arrives in the area. Elephants will also aggressively chase off predators likelions. The lions are right to be afraid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDJV_nSqDDw

Same applies for the hippos. They can be aggressive towards crocodiles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTcMHB1Wubc

As for the hippo "saving" the wildebeest, we always have to be careful about interpretation. Just because it looks like the hippo was trying to save the life of the wildebeest does not mean that it was the hippo was actually doing. For example, it may have simply been trying to remove the wildebeest from its territory. At times, the hippo puts its mouth around the wildebeest. Was it considering taking a bite? Was it trying to prod the wildebeest? Was it trying to play with the wildebeest?

It's very difficult to demonstrate that any of the behaviors in the videos were displays of altruism.


Altruism among Animals: Meaning and Evolution | Zoology

Altruism is defined as doing good to others, such as sharing food, warning others of danger, adopting orphans, defending one’s own colony etc. Though small, there is always a cost involved in altruism. The altru­ists spend time which could have been used for one’s own work or for other purposes.

In genetic terms it can be said that altru­istic behaviour raises the fitness of another individual while lowering one’s own fitness. Let us consider there are two alleles in a population of animals (X and X’). Of the two alleles, X favours the possessor of doing well to another member of a species, by saving it from the clutches of a predator.

X’ possessor favours in not getting involved. In most instances, X’ possessor is going to live longer and also reproduce more than the possessor of X. Therefore, allele X – favouring altruistic behaviour – will decline in the population.

Evolution of Altruism:

Seemingly altruistic behaviour occurs in many animals including humans. The ques­tion intriguing socio-biologists is how altruis­tic behaviour has evolved.

Researches in the past 20 years have led to three explanations:

Selfish behaviour is beneficial to the actor, although others in the group may also benefit. Details about it have been given earlier (page 611).

W. D. Hamillon (1963) proposed a mechanism, Kin Selection, for the evolution of altruistic behaviour in spite of where individual fitness was lowered.

The evo­lution of sterile castes in termites, ants, bees and wasps is probably due to kin selection. Most of the members in the colony show what might be regarded as the ultimate in altruism. These numbers give up individual fitness entirely and devote their efforts to the good of the colony.

How can an individual ant, bee, or wasp worker help transfer traits she possesses to the next generation? This can be best explained through Fig. 5.36. A female indi­vidual can either breed and produce offsprings or she can take care of her sisters.

Because of haplodiploidy a female hymenopteran could best evolve by taking care of her sisters with whom she shares 75% of her genes. On the other hand, if she produces offsprings, the offsprings would have only 50% of her genes (Fig. 5.36).

In the social grouping of birds occupying a territory, only one bird lays eggs and only one male fertilizes them. The rest of the birds help feed younger siblings and defend the nest from predators. When either of the dominant male or female dies, their place is taken up by one of the helpers.

K. Rabenold (1984), working with tropi­cal wrens, found that twosomes almost never managed to raise any young. A male and a female with one helper did no better. A pair with two helpers were able to raise four times as many young as twosomes or trios. Groups of six or eight raised twice as many as the quartets. The important factor in improved nesting success seems to be better defence from predators.

In case of the helper wrens, they can strike off on their own to form pairs, but they prefer to be helpers, wasting their time and energy and exposing themselves to preda­tion for virtually nothing, not even geneti­cally! They, however, are contributing to the success of their brothers and sisters, who share 50% of their genes. Thus, genes prefer­ring helping are being passed along.

Cooperative breeding in most other vertebrates also is the only path to successful reproduction. Predation or other factors make only cooperative efforts successful or because all suitable habitats are already occu­pied. Thus, helping can also increase the fitness of individuals.

W. D. Hamilton (1963) tackled the ques­tion of how altruistic behaviour could evolve among blood relatives. How could any behaviour that was detrimental to the actor, but beneficial to the recipient, be favoured by natural selection? It is obvious that natu­ral selection would reject such actions, favouring those who receive but fail to give.

Robert Trivers (1971) has put forward a “reciprocal altruism” model that provides an initial answer to this riddle by suggesting that altruism can be favoured when altruis­tic acts are exchanged by individuals. It is just like I will scratch your back if you scratch mine.


Altruism : Kinship and reciprocity [ edit | edit source ]

Research in evolutionary theory has been applied to social behaviour, including altruism. Some animal altruistic behaviour is explained by kin selection. Beyond the physical exertions that mothers, and in some species fathers, undertake to protect their young, extreme examples of sacrifice may occur. One example is matriphagy (the comsumption of the mother by her offspring) in the spider Stegodyphus. Hamilton's rule describes the benefit of such altruism in terms of Wright's coefficient of relationship to the beneficiary and the benefit granted to the beneficiary minus the cost to the sacrificer. Should this sum be greater than zero a fitness gain will result from the sacrifice.

When apparent altruism is not between kin, it may be based on reciprocity. A monkey will present its back to another monkey, who will pick out parasites after a time the roles will be reversed. Such reciprocity will pay off, in evolutionary terms, as long as the costs of helping are less than the benefits of being helped and as long as animals will not gain in the long run by "cheating" - that is to say, by receiving favours without returning them.


2. Orangutans Are The Most Caring of Parents - Natural Altruism

Orangutans are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild through the actions of humans but if those who continue to destroy the habitat of this remarkable ape would only stop to take note of the care orangutan mothers show their babies perhaps they would end their destructive ways.

This remarkable ape whose name means &aposold man (or person) of the woods&apos is one of the most expressive of mammals.

Youngsters are with the mother for an incredible 5 years, on average, during which time they learn all the skills necessary for adult life in the jungle forests. Mothers are extremely attentive to their babies&apos needs, risking their lives to protect them from predators and guarding precious space when others threaten.

It&aposs this level of selfless care and disregard for self that suggests the orangutan is capable of altruistic behaviour when the need arises.

Orangutan mother and baby


Nature is a “Happy Place” for Children

23 Comments »

I think the definition of altruism is quite clear so I’m not sure why we need to purposely muddy our common notion of it just for the sake of denying its existence. Altruism must relate to behaviour that assists others where no possible perceived benefit could be gained and clearly this has been shown in countless occasions, even though we humans are typically more drawn to observations of mammal savagery, skewing our perceptions about the “wild kingdom”. Clearly these cases cited of altruistic behaviour by animals offer no chance of reciprocity other than perhaps a good feeling about doing it. I don’t know why humans would suppose that they are unique ‘angels’ in the animal kingdom – the only creatures harbouring altruistic dispositions or even consciousness. We are unique in our level of consciousness and our advanced ability to construct mental structures to introspect but it is likely that we are not creators or founders of morality instead jut the most expressive reflective articulators of it. Likely, there are extraterrestrial creatures in the universe that we have not yet met that have arrived at a deeper consciousness than we have currently. Our level of consciousness is more a product of genetic drift than through natural selection and other creatures will develop it eventually, if we spare the world for them to do so. We may just be “early birds” in our depth of consciousness but altruism, empathy and morality may have always been as true a feature of life as the survival instinct has been

Altruism exists in mammals and birds mostly. This stems from empathy. The point of empathy is to make the self and another indistinguishable. We feel pleasure at helping others. So yes, one can say altruism is “selfish” although this is missing the point entirely. Semantics are the problem. If doing something for another is just as selfish as helping oneself, language has become obsolete.

It’s a pretty weak argument to say an altruism that would risk an organism’s life or even take it can be called ‘Selfish’. If Altruism were to not exist in it’s true form then the world wouldn’t have any animal activists or vegans for example.

We humans are vain. There have been numerous sightings by researchers while aboard vessels conducting unrelated research, of whales saving the lives of young seal. Rolling onto her back a whale may draw an imperiled seal pup onto her belly, where the pup rests secure till the predator, in the report I read, a shark, had withdrawn. The pup then slid into the water and made for the icefloes and its mother. Allomaternal care. Key word any animal. I found related behaviour among Ravens. Allomaternal care is common among birds. In mammals, some form of alloparenting has been reported in over 120 species. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2826887?seq=2
For bats.https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1996.tb05324.x/abstract

I’ve read another book by Marc Bekoff (The Emotional Lives of Animals) and it was very good. He’s a well-known cognitive ethologist and he’s written several books: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marc+bekoff

Elephants (Africana loxodonta) will slow to accommodate injured family members, stay with ill or injured members (until forced by thirst/hunger to go). They will cooperate to lift a fallen family member. They will cooperate to rescue in distress youngsters such as this video… https://youtu.be/Cd-LtWtNvDw
Great discussion Candice. I first read about this via Marc Beckoff – the part of your article that states “…Animals are only altruistic when it promotes their survival. It’s quite a stretch, they say, to believe that animals are capable of the complex thinking required to save a life.” and later “True altruism is not very common because it wouldn’t make much sense biologically.” Is the hoary old chestnut of anthropomorphism being leveled at anyone who potentially observes a behaviour and interprets it as ‘for the good of the relationship’ rather than for the good of the species..” I reckon if we (a social mammal) have the capacity to act for the good of another individual at our own cost that other long-lived, social sentient animals do too.

Natural phenomena, aninal interactions and behavioural aspects are as diverse amd mysterious as nature itself. There is a saying in Bengali “jatu jann tatu mann”. Meaning the behavioural triats of humans are as diverse as the number of human beings – each is different from others in certain respect. Therefore, may it be altruism, agonastic, parasitic, or other type of behaviour we know some but do no know many that could be known in due course of time. Animals behaving in normal circumstances do often behave differently in altered circumstances. I believe altruism is true and almost universal in human, domesticated and wild animals. We need to observe more intricately to gather more information.
Hafiz Yahya

When I was about five, I was a fairly typical little boy with a very strong interest in natural history. I grew up in the bush near Sydney, Australia, and one day was watching ants and ant-lions. Two Green ants Rhytidoponera metallicus were walking past an ant-lion pit, about 3cm apart. I flicked the first one in and without hesitation the second ran straight into the pit, grabbed the first ant (who had been grabbed by the ant-lion) by the jaws and tried o pull it out. I can’t recall whether it was successful but I never flicked another green ant into an ant-lion pit!

From a personal point of view, the concept of altruism in species other than humans is more of a hangover from the age of romanticism. Animal behaviourists are usually very careful about trying not to anthropomorphise their experimental subjects and the results. Unfortunately, our language, the tool we use to describe results, is found wanting in describing the non-human construct………As you will note from my somewhat abbreviated spiel, the issue of altruism in the non-human world is subjective. I can only base my views of my 25 years as a zoologist with almost half of that time spent in the field observing numerous species of fauna (granted, all of it terrestrial vertebrate fauna), my readings on the subject and the thoughts derived from those sources. BUT as a scientist I await evidence to the contrary (what is life if it is not for learning).

I do not know if this classifies as altruism but in Attleboro, Massachusetts, just a few miles from where I live, a couple has documented the strangest interspecies relationship I have ever heard of. A wild crow in their back yard has raised and become great friends with a stray kitten. They have a film posted on You Tube.

This discussion about altruism has been very interesting. It brings to mind the words of an anonymous author. Words I think best describe our relationship with animals. The author states:

“We need another, wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. Therein we greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete. Gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, they live by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren. They are not underlings. They are other nations, caught with ourselves in the web of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and the travail ahead.”

From birds who can navigate flawlessly over thousands of miles of open ocean to the sonar of whales, animals have shown extensions of senses we do not have. Dogs who pull injured mates from traffic and elephants who obviously grieve when one of their own dies, show over and over again that animals are not just “instinct” driven.

Animals really are different from you and I. It’s only man’s hubris that prevents us from fully acknowledging and respecting those differences. I believe until we learn to stop measuring animals by ourselves, we have not earned the right to call ourselves truly civilized.

I would urge anyone who has not yet read the 1996 NYTimes bestseller WHEN ELEPHANTS WEEP the emotional lives of animals by Dr. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson to do so if you have an interest in animal behavior & emotions. I believe he devotes a whole chapter to documenting the many altruistic acts observed in a broad range of animal species as well as a variety of other emotions (grief, jealousy, anger, joy, boredom, etc). He also makes a strong case for their ability to express appreciation for beauty and even create art. This book (still used in many comparative psychology curriculum) is a masterpiece that is fascinating to read and would convince even the most skeptical human animal that these emotions and abilities are not exclusive to homo sapiens. I would also recommend Sociobiology by the eminent biologist E.O. Wilson.

I heard the following story. A guy was driving his truck on a back road on his way home one evening. He came upon a young fox laying beside the road. He stopped, went back to see about it and found that it was still alive but it couldn’t stand. He went back to his truck to phone for help and when he looked up in his rear-view mirror, he saw two foxes “carrying” the injured fox back off into the brush. He said that he felt that the injured fox would be just fine and drove away.

I think we need to keep exploring the answers to that question until the majority of people begin to believe that animals are really no different from you and I. That has huge implications for so many parts of our lives and theirs.

We can’t be held captive to thinking within the box of empirical science where skepticism and special interests cause good forward thinking toward an emergent consciousness to flounder and languish amidst the confusion of logic dependent only on known scientific Socratic fact.

However, that Pandora’s box is slowly opening wider and wider with new research into animal cognition, animal consciousness, animal awareness, animal intelligence and yes…animal emotion… dispelling Dan’s statement that “humans are the only ones aware of their existence.” For pete’s sake…we just learned that the gene for language has been found in Neanderthal DNA and there have been hundreds of examples of animals deliberately using tools in a premeditated way…proving that Homo sapiens, “Thinking Man,” has no proprietary claim on either language or tools setting him above or apart from any other nonhuman animals! It is even arguable that he is a natural terminal predator!! (I consider him a “cheat” since I share the belief we are primary consumers in our natural state!)

I know Dan’s next statement is going to be “show me the facts” because he is such an able researcher and debater albeit sympathetic to the brotherhood of wildlife “managers” and “conservationists” who are adamant that wildlife is a natural resource to be managed to the benefit of society and thereby they are detached of sorts from the natural world in a spiritual “conscious” sense. But I implore all who still question, to do the research and answer your questions to your own satisfaction. The empirical “facts” are out there along with the ancient wisdom that has always been known.

I’d hate to see anyone still stuck in this contemporary conservative yet dominant worldview…and to my understanding…this current structure of human consciousness, the “rational mind” of enlightened thinking, which is actually a “Dark Age” according to William I. Thompson in his “Coming Into Being:Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness”…is a precursor of yet another imminent emerging mutation of human consciousness (see Gebser 1985 “The Ever-Present Origin”, Feuerstein 1987 “Structures of Consciousness”, Roszak 1975 “Unfinished Animal”)…albeit a higher form of animal consciousness since we ourselves are naught but animals!!

Yet this emergent consciousness breaching its very own birth is yet another evolutionary mutation in the archeology of human awareness. Oh, why am I always so surprised at the depths and obstinacy of Homo hubris!!

“But like most examples of animal altruism, what seemed to be a selfless act had selfish benefits.”

wouldn’t this be true for human animals, as well?

Amazing… Kropotkin already wrote about altruism more than a 100 years ago… Now it seems we have proof he was right…

Binti is best known for an incident which occurred on August 16, 1996, when she was eight years old. A three-year old boy climbed the wall around her zoo enclosure and fell 18 feet onto concrete below, rendering him unconscious with a broken hand and a vicious gash on the side of his face.[1]
Binti walked to the boy’s side while helpless spectators screamed, certain the gorilla would harm the child. Another larger female gorilla approached, and Binti growled.[1]
Binti consoled the child and kept the other animals at bay, so that zoo personnel could retrieve him.[2] Her 17-month-old baby, Koola, clutched her back throughout the incident. The boy spent four days in the hospital and recovered fully.[3]
[edit] Aftermath
After the incident, experts debated whether Binti’s actions were a result of training by the zoo or animal altruism. Because Binti had been hand-raised, as opposed to being raised in the wild by other gorillas, she has had to be specially trained to care for an infant and to take her child to personnel for examinations. One could assume that this training resulted in her behavior when the little boy fell into her enclosure.[citation needed] Primatologist Frans de Waal, however, uses Binti Jua as an example of empathy in animals.[2]

I believe that true altruism does not exist.
Animals, humans included, will act solely to benefit themselves and therefore increase the probability of gene propagation. Every altruistic act is either an error or a selfish act that will in some way benefit the actor. It could have immediate benefits or indirect ones, such as putting the actor in a better light and thus raising his/her position in society or his/her circle of friends, for example.
The dolphin/whale interaction is a very good recent example. Why are they together? Well, maybe for mutual benefits: the dolphin is protected and the whale-babysitter has an extra pair of eyes to check for dangers. Or maybe there is another reason that we can’t yet understand, but the only certain thing is that there will be a reason and the reason will not be selfless.

Well, I actually believe that animal altruism does exist. Why shouldn’t the fact that animals can actually think for themselves and help other animals for just kindness? Are animals just basically creatures then, that do not have any compassion? I believe animals CAN have compassion for other animals, even if it isn’t their own kind, species, and so forth. They aren’t just creatures that think to just survive and not think about any other animal. I know the mothers care for their young, so they have love. So if they have love for their own young and to mate, then why can’t they have any compassion? They can do whatever they want, and not only for selfish self-benefiting reasons. All of these incidents that prove animal altruism aren’t just weird errors. If you were an animal, would you not show compassion just like when you were human?

Before discussing, perhaps a detailed definition of altruism is needed.

This was a very interesting article. At the heart of your question, “Is animal altruism real”, is to argue if there is such a concept as “true altruism”. What appears as unselfish behavior or taking on the needs of others above oneself could be for some benefit unknown to the observer. The part of the article titled “Helpful Acts, Selfish Benefits” hits this idea dead on.

Elephants have been a main focus of behavioral observation to determine if animal altruism is real, and a larger focus to try and determine if mammals have “feelings” or emotions. Not to completely go off grid, but again that all depends on how one interprets behavior and the definition of a word. What is an emotion? One definition is: “A psychological state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is sometimes accompanied by physiological changes.” So when an elephant makes trumpet call when a calf dies, is it crying from depression (feeling) or is it an outside environmental stimulus causing a hormonal change in the hypothalamus thus resulting in a behavior. Or maybe its chemical, the chemoreceptors in the parent elephant are triggered by the “smell” of decease, thus causing other biological changes resulting in a specific behavior. I am not saying this is the case, but just arguing the fact that it is all perception and lack of definition in a word.

The reason I mention emotions in an discussion on altruism is that I think they go hand in hand. It also means that for animal altruism to exist, that means the animal must have a conscious and as far as I understand, humans are the only ones aware of their existence. While overly simplistic, just put a mirror in front of an intelligent living thing and watch what happens.

There are many examples of animals possibly displaying altruistic behavior. Going back to elephants, an adult female will put herself between danger and herd (especially if young present). This could be the female putting the welfare of others above her own, but I think it is a survival strategy for the species to make sure the young mature – especially considering intense amount of energy put into reproduction and low numbers of offspring. A dog that saves a person from a burning house again could be seen as animal altruism, but maybe the dog’s instinct knows that is food and care source. The famous female lion that took care of a baby antelope while she alone was starving (the story was huge on you tube, discovery channel, and Nat Geo). Could be that she was young, inexperienced, was separated from pride, and was substituting it for normal companion (far fetched, and I forget what the professionals theorized the “true” reason).

Either way, it is an interesting concept and even more interesting debate on theories in why animals behave certain ways.

Absolutely..compassion began with maternal instinct long before Homo species were a twinkle in Australopithicus’ eye! Man has no more proprietary claim on altruism in the animal world than he does on language and tools, based on the latest scientific research…which comes late of ancient tribal wisdom in the first place!

One need only visit the myriad of Facebook sites that document animal altruism in daily posts meant to inspire and fulfill the longing and emptiness of humans suffering from their detachment from the natural world.


Group Selection

Group selection is another proposed mechanism of evolution in which natural selection operates at the group level, instead of at the level of the individual [9][10].

Darwin, in “The Descent of Man” in 1871,[7] attempted to explain the evolution of human altruism as a selection process at the group level: “When two tribes of primeval man, living in the same country, came into competition, if (other things being equal) the one tribe included a great number of courageous, sympathetic and faithful members, who were always ready to warn each other of danger, to aid and defend each other, this tribe would succeed better and conquer the other.” [7]

Darwin’s explanation seems a tad non-Darwinian, thus revealing the magnitude of the problem.

A winner has no impact on evolution, per se, unless it has a better ‘Darwinian or inclusive fitness’ (the genetic contribution of an individual to the next generation’s gene pool relative to the average for the population). An altruist may win but if its ‘Darwinian and inclusive fitness’ is nil, altruism stops with it. If altruism survives, even though donors perish leaving no progeny, the survival of the fittest is not true for the fittest are those who leave the most copies of themselves in successive generations.

This issue has bothered many since Darwin, among them, Hamilton [11]. E. O. Wilson and D. S, Wilson write: ‘‘[…] something more than natural selection within single groups is required to explain how altruism and other group-advantageous traits evolve by natural selection.” [12]

For natural selection to favor altruism in a broader scenario, the ‘within-group’ disadvantage of the altruist must be offset by the ‘between-group’ advantage of the group including altruists. [13] ‘‘Cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation by defectors hence, the evolution of cooperation requires specific mechanisms, which allow natural selection to favor cooperation over defection.’’ [14][15]

For group selection to be viable, we must assume that the variation between groups is larger than the variation within groups. Since selection acts upon the phenotype, competition and selection can operate at all levels. Therefore, D. S. Wilson contends that “At all scales, there must be mechanisms that coordinate the right kinds of action and prevent disruptive forms of self-serving behavior at lower levels of social organization.”[16] He summarizes, “Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary.”[16]

As we shall see, not everyone agrees with that. ‘Between-group’ selection is possible, in principle, although it is weak compared to any which may happen ‘within-group’. Therefore, if we are to explain ‘for the good of the group’ behavior, then we must do it without group selection.

In fact, all models for explaining how cooperative and altruistic social behavior evolve, such as kin selection, reciprocity, and the selfish gene theory developed as alternatives to group selection.


Animal Altruism?

By Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz and Abigail Marsh

In January of 2009, the marine ecologists Robert Pitman and John Durban were aboard a research vessel off the West Antarctic Peninsula when they encountered a strange and marvelous sight.

As they recently described in Marine Mammal Science, the researchers were observing a pod of eleven killer whales attacking a Weddell seal that had sought refuge on an ice floe. That wasn’t the strange part, though—seals are a mainstay of killer whales’ diets. The strange part was that, as Pitman and Durban watched, two massive humpback whales surged into the middle of the action.

This was no effort to be sociable. Killer whales are humpbacks’ natural enemies, and the two species do not normally intermingle. Nor were the humpbacks, who eat only tiny shrimp and fish, joining in the hunt.

No, by all appearances, the humpbacks were helping the seal.

The killer whales eventually succeeding in breaking up the seal’s ice floe, dumping it back into the water. The seal then swam straight toward the humpbacks. When it reached them, Pitman and Durban watched in astonishment as one of the humpbacks rolled over onto its back and swept the seal up onto its belly with a nudge of its flipper. There, the seal briefly rested in safety as though lying atop a slick, blubbery ice floe.

The presumably befuddled seal (Pitman and Durban described it as “freaked out”) soon swam off to find a more conventional resting place. But the ecologists, and we, are left to wonder why this strange episode happened in the first place. Was it altruism?

For biologists, altruism includes any behavior that benefits another individual at a cost or risk to the altruist. So biologically speaking, the whale’s behavior was altruistic. It sacrificed its own energy and safety and the only obvious beneficiary was the seal.

Why would one animal ever make sacrifices to help another?

Many acts of animal altruism can be explained via two established theories. Kin selection dictates that animals will preferentially help their relatives, thereby benefiting the altruist’s own genetic legacy. Kin selection can explain many acts of altruism among animals that live in groups. For example, prairie dogs are more likely to bark out risky warning calls to alert their relatives to seek shelter. But kin selection cannot explain why a whale would help a member of a different species. Neither can the other major biological theory of altruism, reciprocity, which dictates that help will be given to those who have helped in the past, or who may in the future. But a seal can’t possibly help a whale in return for its protection.

But an explanation is clearly needed. What the humpback whales did was no fluke—it was one of over 70 recorded episodes of humpbacks intervening in killer whale attacks on unrelated species. And humpbacks are not the only species known to help other animals. There are many stories of dolphins rescuing humans, dogs, and each other from sharks and fishing nets, and documented episodes of apes helping injured animals and even human children who fall into their enclosures.

Is it possible that acts of interspecies altruism like these can result from genuine psychological altruism—the motivation to improve another’s welfare?

It was once believed that psychological altruism required a level of cognitive complexity that only humans possess. It’s true that no other species can match humans’ ability to think abstractly, reason, or use grammatical language. But none of these abilities appear to be necessary for altruism.

Felix Warneken and his colleagues have demonstrated that children as young as 18 months old will provide help to adults in need. And several research groups have demonstrated that a range of animal species, from bonobos to the humble rat, will act altruistically to help others. In one study, laboratory rats, worked to free trapped, distressed cagemates from restrainers, even if it meant giving up chocolate for themselves.

This suggests that altruistic motivation springs not from high-level concerns about justice and morality—which are the purview of humans—but from lower level emotional processes that humans share with many other animals, from rats to whales. Activity in emotional brain structures like the amygdala, insula, and striatum, support empathy, which is the ability to understand when others are in need or distress, and caring, which is the desire to alleviate that state. These processes may suffice to motivate altruism in humans and non-humans alike. Our own research has linked variations in the size and activity of the amygdala to empathic sensitivity and extraordinary acts of human altruism, like donating a kidney to a stranger. The amygdala has also been linked to prosocial behavior in bonobos and rats.

Because non-human animals cannot talk, it is impossible to know for certain what motivates their behavior. Did the humpbacks who rescued the Weddell seal understand that it was in distress, and genuinely desire to help it? Once upon a time, this interpretation would have been considered hopeless anthropomorphism—the projection of humanlike qualities onto animals. But the primatologist Frans de Waal argues that “anthropodenial", the denial that humans and animals share many abilities and traits, is an equally serious mistake.

When a humpback whale swims into a pod of attacking killer whales and rescues a seal, it is reasonable to consider a variety of possible causes for this behavior.


Animal Altruism?

By Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz and Abigail Marsh

In January of 2009, the marine ecologists Robert Pitman and John Durban were aboard a research vessel off the West Antarctic Peninsula when they encountered a strange and marvelous sight.

As they recently described in Marine Mammal Science, the researchers were observing a pod of eleven killer whales attacking a Weddell seal that had sought refuge on an ice floe. That wasn’t the strange part, though—seals are a mainstay of killer whales’ diets. The strange part was that, as Pitman and Durban watched, two massive humpback whales surged into the middle of the action.

This was no effort to be sociable. Killer whales are humpbacks’ natural enemies, and the two species do not normally intermingle. Nor were the humpbacks, who eat only tiny shrimp and fish, joining in the hunt.

No, by all appearances, the humpbacks were helping the seal.

The killer whales eventually succeeding in breaking up the seal’s ice floe, dumping it back into the water. The seal then swam straight toward the humpbacks. When it reached them, Pitman and Durban watched in astonishment as one of the humpbacks rolled over onto its back and swept the seal up onto its belly with a nudge of its flipper. There, the seal briefly rested in safety as though lying atop a slick, blubbery ice floe.

The presumably befuddled seal (Pitman and Durban described it as “freaked out”) soon swam off to find a more conventional resting place. But the ecologists, and we, are left to wonder why this strange episode happened in the first place. Was it altruism?

For biologists, altruism includes any behavior that benefits another individual at a cost or risk to the altruist. So biologically speaking, the whale’s behavior was altruistic. It sacrificed its own energy and safety and the only obvious beneficiary was the seal.

Why would one animal ever make sacrifices to help another?

Many acts of animal altruism can be explained via two established theories. Kin selection dictates that animals will preferentially help their relatives, thereby benefiting the altruist’s own genetic legacy. Kin selection can explain many acts of altruism among animals that live in groups. For example, prairie dogs are more likely to bark out risky warning calls to alert their relatives to seek shelter. But kin selection cannot explain why a whale would help a member of a different species. Neither can the other major biological theory of altruism, reciprocity, which dictates that help will be given to those who have helped in the past, or who may in the future. But a seal can’t possibly help a whale in return for its protection.

But an explanation is clearly needed. What the humpback whales did was no fluke—it was one of over 70 recorded episodes of humpbacks intervening in killer whale attacks on unrelated species. And humpbacks are not the only species known to help other animals. There are many stories of dolphins rescuing humans, dogs, and each other from sharks and fishing nets, and documented episodes of apes helping injured animals and even human children who fall into their enclosures.

Is it possible that acts of interspecies altruism like these can result from genuine psychological altruism—the motivation to improve another’s welfare?

It was once believed that psychological altruism required a level of cognitive complexity that only humans possess. It’s true that no other species can match humans’ ability to think abstractly, reason, or use grammatical language. But none of these abilities appear to be necessary for altruism.

Felix Warneken and his colleagues have demonstrated that children as young as 18 months old will provide help to adults in need. And several research groups have demonstrated that a range of animal species, from bonobos to the humble rat, will act altruistically to help others. In one study, laboratory rats, worked to free trapped, distressed cagemates from restrainers, even if it meant giving up chocolate for themselves.

This suggests that altruistic motivation springs not from high-level concerns about justice and morality—which are the purview of humans—but from lower level emotional processes that humans share with many other animals, from rats to whales. Activity in emotional brain structures like the amygdala, insula, and striatum, support empathy, which is the ability to understand when others are in need or distress, and caring, which is the desire to alleviate that state. These processes may suffice to motivate altruism in humans and non-humans alike. Our own research has linked variations in the size and activity of the amygdala to empathic sensitivity and extraordinary acts of human altruism, like donating a kidney to a stranger. The amygdala has also been linked to prosocial behavior in bonobos and rats.

Because non-human animals cannot talk, it is impossible to know for certain what motivates their behavior. Did the humpbacks who rescued the Weddell seal understand that it was in distress, and genuinely desire to help it? Once upon a time, this interpretation would have been considered hopeless anthropomorphism—the projection of humanlike qualities onto animals. But the primatologist Frans de Waal argues that “anthropodenial", the denial that humans and animals share many abilities and traits, is an equally serious mistake.

When a humpback whale swims into a pod of attacking killer whales and rescues a seal, it is reasonable to consider a variety of possible causes for this behavior.


Quantifying Kindness

Altruism has long been a subject for debate in evolutionary biology, going back to Darwin and On the Origin of Species. In the mid-1960s, evolutionary biologist William D. Hamilton posited that evolution can favor genetic success, not necessarily reproductive success on an individual level. He created a formula—dubbed Hamilton’s rule—to try and quantify kindness.

From miniature bees in Australia to birds on African savannas, biologists have recently begun looking at animals in harsh and unpredictable environments for clues as to how altruism evolves.

Kennedy first became interested in unpredictable environments while studying wasps in French Guiana. “Colonies can be destroyed by catastrophes—like the sudden appearance of parasitic flesh fly larvae, which devour the developing wasps," he says. "Thinking about these relentless risks, we wondered how unpredictability could affect social evolution more generally.”

Kennedy thinks there may be another unusual place to observe altruism: our guts. Complex social communities of bacteria live inside us, in fluctuating environments similar to those described in the paper.

“It’s strange links like this that I love about evolutionary biology: one minute you’re sweating it out in a tropical rainforest fending off angry wasp stings, and the next you’re thinking about bacteria in your intestines,” he says.


Conclusion

Evolutionists recognize that they have a problem with adoption. “This challenges evolutionary theory because of the apparent extremely altruistic nature of the behavior,"47 one research team wrote discussing adoption in primates. Another research team discussing penguin adoption echoed the sentiment: “This behaviour is rare and appears to conflict evolutionary theory, as kin selection is unattainable.”48 Their struggle to reconcile their observation with evolutionary dogma is illuminating.

Creationists are in a much better position when it comes to discussing animal adoptions. While this cannot be argued dogmatically, incredible adoptions like the lioness with an oryx calf and bald eagles nurturing a gull chick could point back to the original design. Isaiah tells us that the lion will lay down with the calf and that “ They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the LORD ” (Isaiah 65:25). Perhaps these remarkable lapses of identification and predatory instinct are actually relapses to a pre-fall mindset in these creatures. A mindset where a baby is to be nurtured and cared for just like a member of their own kind would seem to fit well with the perfect world of Genesis 1. These predators caring for their prey seem to exemplify such a mindset. This would seem to make sense in light of a perfect pre-fall world and the statements from Isaiah about the future. Whether that is applicable or not, animal adoption defies Darwinian explanation and stands as powerful evidence against a purposeless, blind process that evolutionists propose created life.


Watch the video: Top 10 Ζώα Που Αποτύχαμε Να Δαμάσουμε (September 2022).


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