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Author Topic:

Interspecific altruism

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Rigil Kent
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« on: June 28, 2009, 19:25:35 PM »

Came across this surprising article about a dolphin saving pygmy sperm whales from beaching. Surprising, because I assumed that only humans were capable of assisting members of different species.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7291501.stm
 
The possibility of interspecific altruism seems to fly in the face of the selfish gene idea, doesn't it? Wonder what that dolphin was really doing.

Mintaka
« Last Edit: June 28, 2009, 20:05:55 PM by Mintaka » Logged
Tweefo
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2009, 12:59:58 PM »

There is also reports (how good I don't know) of Hippo's saving a Widebees calf from Crocodiles.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2009, 14:14:07 PM »

The gene itself is blind in the sense that it has no idea how it will be expressed in amidst a huge number of other genes, so it is a bit of a stretch trying to relate such behaviours back to a “selfish gene” perspective.  If a genetically-driven behaviour pattern somehow enhances a particular gene’s (or allele’s) survivability above that of individuals who do not share it, then the gene will very probably become more common in the species over a few generations.

Interspecies altruism is probably due to accident, aberration and/or “mistaken identity,” at least initially, which results in a case of overzealous co-operation that looks like altruism.  However, the point to note is that if the behaviour is genetically governed and it gives a survivability edge to the practising organisms, then it will tend to become more abundant.  Such happenstances may lie at the root of symbiotic relationships.

'Luthon64
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