Reality Blind - Vol. 1


Summary: Most animals aren ’ t social at all; it ’ s every critter for itself. However, in the “ big game ” of life there are various strategic choices which life can explore, including living among others of one ’ s kind for mutual and aggregate benefit. This sociality comes in many flavors, ranging from temporary mating assemblages of individuals, to species in which the individuals lose their ability to function independently, even to the extent of becoming physically specialized cogs and wheels in a single much-larger superorganism. Among our ancestors, lone hunters, even if they were strong and ornery, couldn ’ t have killed and eaten many mastodons. Functioning as a larger entity was as necessary to bring down big game for humans as it is for other pack hunters. In the animal kingdom, there exists a behavioral spectrum running from solitary species to social species. At the highest levels of sociality are a very few eusocial ( “ real social ” ) species, characterized by a) overlap of adult generations, b) division of labor and c) cooperative care of young 67 . Arguably the most successful eusocial species on the planet are members of the orders Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps) and Blattodea (termites) whose combined biomass was only recently being surpassed by humans 68 . Ant, bee, and termite colonies function as single units, optimizing food surplus, with labor being divided among “ worker castes ” and reproduction dominated by queens. Humans don ’ t quite reach the level of organization of an ant colony (who have the better part of 100-million years ’ head start on us) but are intensely social in our daily lives in similar ways. In hunter-gatherer times we cooperated as tribal units to access resources and unite in common defense


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