Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Top Murderous Mammals...Not Humans

So much for that folk lore.   Even better chimps conduct war.  Thus it turns out that same species murder is more the way things are than any particular exception.  And we are only typical for primates.  It was obviously time this idea was tested rigorously.

I do believe that we can develop a society in which murder completely disappears.  It is obviously desirable.  That will not heal those who are bent, but the likelihood of being bent should decline sharply and even converge to zero.

Nature in tooth and claw has meant infanticide often by a new male who truly gets the opportunity to kill off an absent rival's offspring.


Top Murderous Mammals...Not Humans

Which mammal is most likely to be murdered by its own kind? It’s certainly not humans—not even close. Nor is it a top predator like the grey wolf or lion, although those at least are #11 and #9 in the league table of murdery mammals. No, according to a study led by José María Gómez from the University of Granada, the top spot goes to… the meerkat. These endearing black-masked creatures might be famous for their cooperative ways, but they kill each other at a rate that makes man’s inhumanity to man look meek. Almost one in five meerkats, mostly youngsters, lose their lives at the paws and jaws of their peers.

Gómez’s study is the first thorough survey of violence in the mammal world, collating data on more than a thousand species. It clearly shows that we humans are not alone in our capacity to kill each other. Our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, have been known to wage brutal war, but even apparently peaceful creatures take each other’s lives. When ranked according to their rates of lethal violence, ground squirrels, wild horses, gazelle, and deer all feature in the top 50. So do long-tailed chinchillas, which kill each other more frequently than tigers and bears do.

Gómez’s team predicted that when our species arose, around 2 percent of us (1 in 50) would have been murdered by other people.

First, he and his team compiled everything they could find on causes of death for various mammals, accumulating some 3,000 studies over two years. Their work revealed that lethal violence aimed at others from the same species is rare but widespread. It exists in almost 40 percent of the 1,024 mammal species that the team surveyed, and varies from group to group. Contrary to Watership Down, rabbits rarely kill each either. Neither do bats or whales. As you might expect, carnivores like lions, tigers, and bears, do so more frequently. But “it was striking that lethal violence wasn’t concentrated in those groups,” says Gómez.

The primates—the order that includes us, apes, monkeys, and lemurs—seem to be especially violent. While just 0.3 percent of mammal deaths are caused by members of the same species, that rate rose to 2.3 percent in the common ancestor of primates, and dropped slightly to 1.8 percent in the ancestor of great apes. That’s the lethal legacy that humanity inherited. Read more at Humans: Unusually Murderous Mammals, Typically Murderous Primates

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