VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies
6. Cooperative Societies
De Waal, Frans. How Animals do Business. Scientific American. April, 2005. A leading investigator of primate culture (aka monkey business) provides evolutionary roots for the new field of behavioral economics, which contends that market studies need to include human social psychology in its equations. From fish to chimpanzee, animals can be seen to similarly trade grooming, food items, reciprocity and so on.
De Waal, Frans. The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society. New York: Harmony Books, 2009. The Emory University primatologist was inspired to write his latest book by President Barack Obama’s college campus evocations for a more caring, helping, emphatic culture. In response, de Waal illustrates with copious cases an “other Darwinism” that can admit and include how pervasive cooperative behavior actually is, quite imperative for individual and group survival, not only for humans and primates groups but across Metazoan species from invertebrates to mammals. By such lights, a recurrent natural wisdom is revealed which people can avail for viable communities. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin advised, one might add, by the name of “creative union,” and traditional African “ubuntu” cultures whence a communal kinship actually will enhance one personal liberty.
De Waal, Franz and Peter Tyack, eds. Animal Social Complexity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003. An extensive volume which presents evidence that cultural qualities are not unique to humans, as long thought, but are common throughout avian, cetacean, and primate societies. As a result, relative and appropriate degrees of intelligence, behavior and communicative transmission are found to exist throughout the animal kingdom.
Deutsch, Andreas, et al. Collective Motion in Biological Systems. Interface Focus. 2/689, 2012. Online October, with Guy Theraulaz and Tamas Vicsek, an Introduction to an issue on pervasive nonlinear dynamics that grace and propel animal assemblies. Pithy papers are “Schools of Fish and Flocks of Birds: Their Shape and Internal Structure by Self-Organization” by Charlotte Hemelrijk and Hanno Hildenbrandt, and “The Modelling Cycle for Collective Animal Behaviour” by David Sumpter, et al. A broad survey of sophisticated collaborative findings that serve to reveal nature’s universality across many kingdoms and scales.
One of the conspicuous features of life is the persistent motion of creatures. Thus, the spectrum of biological systems exhibiting group motion is wide and includes cases such as bacteria colonies, migrating locusts, schools of fish, flocks of birds, groups of mammals (including people) and so on. Each system has its specific features and motion patterns, but, as statistical physics teaches us, if a system is made of many similar, interacting units, then some relevant, universal behaviours are expected to take place as well, in this way bridging the gap between the aforementioned examples and making the studies of collective motion a sub-field (within collective behaviour) on its own right. What are these ‘universal’ features? It turns out that the motion of, for example, fish schools or flocking birds share a lot in common. (Abstract)
Deutsch, Andreas, et al. Multi-scale Analysis and Modelling of Collective Migration in Biological Systems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. July, 2020. Senior complexity scientists AD, Technical University Dresden, Peter Friedl, Radboud University, Luigi Preziosi, Polytechnic University of Torino, and Guy Theraulaz, University of Toulouse introduce a special issue with this title. A full page graphic (second quote) depicts ten examples from neural maturation to cellular, insect, fish, bird and mammalian activities whence the same patterns and processes occur across this wide expanse. Some papers herein are An Agent-based Approach for Modelling Collective Dynamics in Animal Groups, Collective Migration during Early Development of Zebrafish, Collective Migration from the Wildebeest to the Neural Crest (search Shellard), Dynamic Heterogenity during Epithelial Wound Closure, and Collective Information Processing in Human Phase Separation (Jayles). As its 125 references span the 21st century, this 2020 synopsis can report the presence of an independent, mathematical source code program which universally iterates and exemplifies in vital kind everywhere. In regard, as a pandemic and other perils rage, we would do well to realize that an actual ecosmos uniVerse in our cognitive midst that is just being discovered by our worldwise EarthKinder.
Collective migration has become a paradigm for emergent, coherent behaviour in systems of moving and interacting individual units. Collective cell migration is important in embryonic tissue and organ development, as well as pathological processes, such as cancer invasion and metastasis. Animal group movements enhance individuals' decisions and aid navigation through environments. The articles in this theme issue on compile a range of mathematical models and multi-scale methods for the analysis of collective migration which uncover new unifying organization principles of collective behavior from individual to collective forms. As a common theme, self-organized collective migration is the result of ecological and evolutionary constraints both at the cell and organismic levels. (Abstract excerpt)
Dombrovski, Mark, et al. Cooperative Behavior Emerges among Drosophila Larvae. Current Biology. 27/2821, 2017. A nine University of Virginia biologists and computer analysts proceed to show how even larval stages of these fruit flies are moved by innate tendencies to form beneficial social groupings. If to compare with Westley, et al, 2018 herein, recent studies seem to altogether portend a universal, independent source which serves to guide life’s every phase from nucleotides and bacteria to all manner of organisms in community.
Spectacular examples of cooperative behavior emerge among a variety of animals. However, the rules governing such behavior have been difficult to elucidate. Drosophila larvae are known to socially aggregate and use vision, mechanosensation, and gustation to recognize each other. We describe here a model experimental system of cooperative behavior involving Drosophila larvae. While foraging in liquid food, larvae are observed to align themselves and coordinate their movements in order to drag a common air cavity and dig deeper. Large-scale cooperation is required to maintain contiguous air contact across the posterior breathing spiracles. (Abstract excerpt)
Dugatkin, Lee. Cooperation Among Animals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. A notable contribution on the primacy of altruistic behavior in evolution.
Dukas, Reuven. Effects of Learning on Evolution: Robustness, Innovation and Speciation. Animal Behavior. Online March, 2013. The McMaster University neuropsychologist identifies the value of a good environmental education for all creaturly domains for their survival and posterity. It is very vital to be able to record and accumulate experiences, which can foster novel, creative responses. Speciation follows in turn by a more assortative mating which leads to population divergence. See also Dukas’ chapter, with Thomas Hills, “The Evolution of Cognitive Search” in Cognitive Search: Evolution, Algorithms, and the Brain (MIT Press 2012, search Todd).
All animals are highly plastic and rely on the modulation of gene action, physiology and behaviour to continuously modify their phenotypes. Compared to other types of plasticity, learning, defined as the internal representation of novel information, allows animals to better exploit environmental features unique to certain times and places. This distinctive property of learning gives it an enormous potential to promote evolution through increased robustness, innovation and speciation rate. First, learning can enhance robustness because it allows individuals to adopt new resources and avoid novel threats. The best examples are cases of social learning that lead to the exploitation of novel food sources followed by genetic changes that optimize use of the new diet. Finally, learning can increase the levels of assortative mating that lead to population divergence either when young imprint on their parents or when individuals restrict their mate choice criteria based on interactions with prospective mates. (Abstract)
Dunbar, Robin. Evolution of the Social Brain. Science. 302/1160, 2003. A review of two articles in this issue that find sociality in baboons aided by relationships between primate females and an associated communicative component. Anthropologist Dunbar’s own important work is noted is several places.
Dunbar, Robin, et al. Primate Social Group Sizes Exhibit a Regular Scaling Pattern with Natural Attractors. Biology Letters. 14/1, 2018. Psychologists Dunbar and Padraig Mac Carron, Oxford University, and biologist Susanne Shultz, University of Manchester offer further extensive evidence that simian groupings across many species tend to common, default sizes within a general nested sequence. See also Optimizing Human Community Sizes by Dunbar and Richard Sosis in Evolution and Human Behavior (39/1, 2018), and Sizes of Permanent Campsite Communities Reflect Constraints on Natural Human Communities by Tobias Kordsmeyer, et al in Current Anthropology (58/2, 2017), second Abstract.
Primate groups vary considerably in size across species. Nonetheless, the distribution of mean species group size has a regular scaling pattern with preferred sizes approximating 2.5, 5, 15, 30 and 50 individuals (although strepsirrhines lack the latter two), with a scaling ratio of approximately 2.5 similar to that observed in human social networks. These clusters appear to form distinct social grades that are associated with rapid evolutionary change, presumably in response to intense environmental selection pressures. These findings may have wider implications for other highly social mammal taxa. (Dunbar Abstract)
Emery, Nathan, et al, eds. Social Intelligence: From Brain to Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Not yet seen, we quote from the OUP website. Eighteen papers cover in breadth and depth the persistent formation across the animal kingdoms of a ramifying collective cognition. See also the 2007 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B issue edited by Emery and posted in The Appearance of Homo Sapiens section.
Why are humans so clever? The 'Social intelligence' hypothesis explores the idea that this cleverness has evolved through the increasing complexity of social groups. Our ability to understand and control nature is a by-product of our ability to understand the mental states of others and to use this knowledge to co-operate or deceive. These abilities have not emerged out of the blue. They can be found in many social animals that co-operate and compete with one another, birds as well as mammals.
Fehr, Ernst, et al. Strong Reciprocity, Human Cooperation, and the Enforcement of Social Norms. Human Nature. 13/1, 2002. The lead article in a special issue that seeks to quantify an innate tendency for cooperation.
This paper provides strong evidence challenging the self-interest assumption that dominates the behavioral sciences and much evolutionary thinking. The evidence indicates that many people have a tendency to voluntarily cooperate, if treated fairly, and to punish noncooperators.