bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Altruism becomes sexy

Cloning makes creatures nastier say researchers at Sussex University. And the stinging bee is held up as an altruistic example resulting from sexual reproduction rather than asexual reproduction.
As Dr Peck explains: "In many species adults help each other, even though this may cause harm to themselves. An example is when a honeybee 'commits suicide' by stinging someone attacking its hive. The stinger is left in the attacker and the defending bee dies. My theory predicts that, if a species becomes asexual, then it will also become progressively nastier so that helpful behaviour almost never occurs. Eventually, this sort of social degeneration can lead to the extinction of the species."

"In sexual organisms, when the going gets tough, the nice get going - they spread out throughout the environment. These nice sorts of individuals then hang around, even after environmental conditions improve. However, under asexuality, niceness doesn't have a chance. The most selfish types seem to take over in an evolutionary blink of an eye."
Peck thinks that if humans became an asexual population, we would probably quickly wipe ourselves out through sheer antagonism.

So next time someone threatens to punch your lights out, just tell them they're not sexy.


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