Interspecific altruism


Rigil Kent (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.

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.

Tweefo (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.
Mefiante (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.



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