Infanticide and Cannibalism in Sociobiology

This is a little quote from E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology that I deleted from the previous post for being a little tangential, but it is still interesting

Guppies (Lebistes reticulatus) are well known for the stabilization of their populations in aquaria by the consumption of their excess young.

So that’s what happened to my pet fish! I always wondered why they seemed to appear and disappear at random. It wasn’t a big enough bowl to logically be losing them in.

Um. Poor guppies.

“Cannibalism is commonplace in the social insects, where it serves as a means of conserving nutrients as well as a precise mechanism for regulating colony size. The colonies of all termite species so far investigated promptly eat their own dead and injured. Cannibalism is in fact so pervasive in termites that it can be said to be a way of life in these insects. …

The eating of immature stages is common in the social Hymenoptera.

Hymenoptera is an order of insects with over 150,000 species, including ants and bees. (Termites, despite also being social, are not members of hymenoptera, and are more closely related to cockroaches.)

Quoting Wikipedia:

Among most or all hymenopterans, sex is determined by the number of chromosomes an individual possesses.[17] Fertilized eggs get two sets of chromosomes (one from each parent’s respective gametes) and develop into diploid females, while unfertilized eggs only contain one set (from the mother) and develop into haploid males. The act of fertilization is under the voluntary control of the egg-laying female, giving her control of the sex of her offspring.[15] This phenomenon is called haplodiploidy.

However, the actual genetic mechanisms of haplodiploid sex determination may be more complex than simple chromosome number. In many Hymenoptera, sex is actually determined by a single gene locus with many alleles.[17] In these species, haploids are male and diploids heterozygous at the sex locus are female, but occasionally a diploid will be homozygous at the sex locus and develop as a male, instead. This is especially likely to occur in an individual whose parents were siblings or other close relatives. Diploid males are known to be produced by inbreeding in many ant, bee, and wasp species. Diploid biparental males are usually sterile but a few species that have fertile diploid males are known.[18]

One consequence of haplodiploidy is that females on average actually have more genes in common with their sisters than they do with their own daughters. Because of this, cooperation among kindred females may be unusually advantageous, and has been hypothesized to contribute to the multiple origins of eusociality within this order.[15][19] In many colonies of bees, ants, and wasps, worker females will remove eggs laid by other workers due to increased relatedness to direct siblings, a phenomenon known as worker policing.[20]

Another consequence is that hymenopterans may be more resistant to the deleterious effects of inbreeding. As males are haploid, any recessive genes will automatically be expressed, exposing them to natural selection. Thus, the genetic load of deleterious genes is purged relatively quickly.[21]

Back to Wilson:

In ant colonies, all injured eggs, larvae, and pupae are quickly consumed. When colonies are starved, workers begin attacking healthy brood as well. In fact, there exists a direct relation between colony hunger and the amount of brood cannibalism that is precise enough to warrant the suggestion that the brood functions normally as a last-ditch food supply to keep the queen and workers alive. In the army ants of the genus Eciton, cannibalism has apparently been further adapted to the purposes of caste determination. According to Schneirla (1971), most of the female larvae in the sexual generation (the generation destined to transform into males and queens) are consumed by workers. The protein is converted into hundred or thousands of males and several of the very large virgin queens. It seems to follow, but is far from proved, that female larvae are determined as queens by this special protein-rich diet. Other groups of ants, bees, and wasps show equally intricate patterns of specialized cannibalism…

E. O. Wilson once said of Marxism, “Wonderful theory, wrong species.”

Nomadic male lions of the Serengeti plains frequently invade the territories of prids and drive away or kill the resident males. The cubs are also sometimes killed and eaten during territorial disputes. … Infant mortality is much higher as a result of the disturbances [in the social order of langurs.] In the case of P. entellus, [a langur species,] the young are actually murdered by the usurper…




Corporations are Meta-Organisms and so Should not be Allowed in Politics

Corporations should not have the same rights as people because corporations are meta-organisms and I don’t want to get out-competed by them.

The meta-organism is still an organism. The same laws of evolution apply to meta-organisms as to since-celled organisms. You are a meta-organism; you are composed of billions of cells, some of them h Sapiens cells, the majority of them not h Sapiens. Yes, numerically speaking, most of your cells are gut bacteria.

Your individual interests are not the same as your cells’. Your cells are just as well-off taking the CTV route and transforming into sexually-transmitted-cancers and infecting everyone they can as they are hanging out in your big toe, worried about getting sloughed off the next time you walk around barefoot. In a pinch, you’ll sacrifice your whole leg to save the rest of you–sucks for your leg, but good for you.

A beehive is a more obvious meta-organism. You probably already know all about bees, so I will attempt not to bore you by over-explaining. The queen bee lays the only eggs; worker bees, all female, spend their days flying miles back and forth to fetch nectar for the hive until their wings literally fall apart and they die.

The colony survives even if the majority of the workers die, say, in destroying an intruder.

The bee does what it has evolved to do, but I do not find such a fate personally attractive (despite my obvious affection for bees.) I do not want to be a bee; I want to be a person.

Corporations, like bee colonies, are meta-organisms. They are created, they live, they die. They attempt to get legislation passed in their favor. They will, if not controlled by some outside source, literally work their employees to death. Corporations do what is best for the corporation, or else what is best for the Queen Bee (management, CEOs.)

A world where corporations are given the same rights as people is a world where corporations change the political, social, and economic landscape to favor the continued existence of corporations, rather than the human beings who are supposed to benefit from them.