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Mon Nov 19, 2012, 12:14 PM

We're in this together: A pathbreaking investigation into the evolution of cooperative behavior

Somehow, I don't think this will be the last word on cooperative behavior. From Phys.org:

Humans are much more inclined to cooperate than are their closest evolutionary relatives. The prevailing wisdom about why this is true has long been focused on the idea of altruism: we go out of our way to do nice things for other people, sometimes even sacrificing personal success for the good of others. Modern theories of cooperative behavior suggest that acting selflessly in the moment provides a selective advantage to the altruist in the form of some kind of return benefit.

A new study published by Current Anthropology offers another explanation for our unusual aptitude for collaboration. The authors of the study argue that humans developed cooperative skills because it was in their mutual interest to work well with othersóindeed ecological circumstances forced them to cooperate with others to obtain food. In other words, altruism isn't the reason we cooperate; we must cooperate in order to survive, and we are altruistic to others because we need them.

Previous theories located the origin of cooperation in either small group settings or large, sophisticated societies. Based on results from cognitive and psychological experiments and research on human development, this study provides a comprehensive account of the evolution of cooperation as a two-step process, which begins in small hunter-gatherer groups and becomes more complex and culturally inscribed in larger societies later on.

The authors premise their theory of mutualistic cooperation on the principle of interdependence. They speculate that at some point in our evolution, it became necessary for humans to forage together, which meant that each individual had a direct stake in the welfare of his partners. In this context of interdependence, humans evolved special cooperative abilities that other apes do not possess, including dividing the spoils fairly, communicating goals and strategies, and understanding one's role in the joint activity as equivalent to another's. Good partnersówho were able to coordinate well with their fellow foragers and would pull their weight in the groupówere more likely to succeed.

a little bit more ...


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Reply We're in this together: A pathbreaking investigation into the evolution of cooperative behavior (Original post)
Jim__ Nov 2012 OP
KT2000 Nov 2012 #1
Jim__ Nov 2012 #2
KT2000 Nov 2012 #3
truedelphi Nov 2012 #4

Response to Jim__ (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:29 PM

1. one reason bacteria

have survived for billions of years is that they share "knowledge." Methods to mutate in reaction to antibiotics is shared with other species of bacteria.

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Response to KT2000 (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 02:02 PM

2. I'm not sure what "Methods to mutate in reaction to antibiotics is shared" means.

I know there is bacterial conjugation which allows genetic transfer between bacteria. Is that what you mean? Do you know what prompts bacterial conjugation? I'd always assumed chemistry caused it; but I've never looked into it. Is it preferentially performed under stressful environmental conditions?

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:43 PM

3. what I meant was there are different ways

bacteria can respond to an antibiotic. For example, altering the permeability of the cell membranes, altering the drug target structure inside the cell and creating compounds such as enzymes to degrade or destroy the antibiotic, etc.
These and other methods of genetic transfer to other bacteria occur under pressure from antibiotics.
The book I was reading said that the antibiotics incite and speed the process - "several orders of magnitude," causing communication across bacterial species lines. Such communication was not known to exist before the introduction of commercial antibiotics.

Sharing resistance information can occur through encoding plasmids, using transposons and integrons and using viruses.

I am not a scientist - just someone who is interested in learning about antibiotic resistance. From what I have learned - we are in big trouble. The nature of bacteria to share survival techniques puts them way ahead of out efforts.

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Response to Jim__ (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:50 PM

4. I find this a very decent article on "the cooperation theory"

However, I have no idea how anyone can state for certain whether our evolutionary ancestors were or weren't cooperative.

"No man is an island" and I think that was true long before John Dunne made the statement. It seems to me that any group of people, however primitive, must cooperate, especially if needing to share knowledge and availability of such resources as energy (think fire,) tools, trade, and "dating services."

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