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The Elusive Calculus of Insects’ Altruism and Kin Selection (quantamagazine.org)
7 points by scottie_m 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments

Ants, termites, and some bees and wasps live in highly organized colonies in which most individuals are sterile or forgo reproduction, instead serving the select few who do lay eggs. Yet such behavior seemed to clearly violate the concept of natural selection and survival of the fittest, if “fittest” means the individual with the greatest reproductive success.

Right, but it’s your genes that are trying to propagate, and how genetically similar are a colony of ants? If collective success still alllws your genes to spread, it’s a win. Given that social insects in a colony share the same “mother” we’re talking about huge group incentives. When you consider how few insects even reach maturity, never mind reproduce, it starts to make a lot of sense to me.

The entire article seems to be a longer version of the discussion of the same issue in the book for non scientists, The Selfish Gene, except for the discussion about the genetic formula/hypothesis used to explain the social insects being unprovable or may be even tautological.

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