One study In behavioral ecology, he has detected “strikingly parallel phenomena” between the distribution of wealth and privilege in the animal world and those we observe in human society. The research concludes that animals, like us, also inherit “non-genetic goods” and external to each particular individual, such as nests, territories and tools, which influences inequality, skills and the survival of new generations.
Examples that the researchers cite in a recently published article include a decades-long practice of North American red squirrels, storing food for the enjoyment of their offspring. A mother can collect pineapples on her territory and grant one of her young the ‘right’ to use the territory where these provisions are hidden. The result is that the young squirrels that receive these resources survive longer and procreate earlier than those that do not have them.
Several other examples show that hereditary privileges are not exclusive to mammals, but are also observed in different species of fish, birds and insects:
- Hyena hatchlings that occupy a higher position in the herd hierarchy inherit from their mothers the priority of access to food within the shared territory.
- Winning red grouse hatchlings in a courtship assembly receive a better position in courtship when their father is near death and after death, which improves their mating chances. What’s more, inherit parental territory.
- Some clownfish inherit a larger sea anemone from their parent than other conspecifics, allowing both generations to better hide from predators and reproduce more safely within their tentacles.
- Some privileged female wasps inherit nests from their motherswhile others do not, benefiting their lineages over others “to further perpetuate the cycle of privilege,” according to the authors.
- The young of several species of chimpanzee and capuchin monkeys can receive from their father or mother stone tools for breaking nuts and the knowledge to use them. These individuals are in an advantageous situation in terms of the ability to access a key food resource.
The researchers see “deep evolutionary roots in the inequality of wealth in the tree of life” and believe that, by studying them, the same phenomenon could be better understood between people. In addition, the team of American ethologists emphasizes the multigenerational character of animal inequality.
Superiority in something accumulates from generation to generation and privileges are perpetuated, while the offspring of underprivileged individuals receive less food, are more often exposed to various dangers, leave fewer progeny, and are sometimes completely extinguished. .
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