Thursday, August 14, 2008

Are geese altruistic?

Migrating birds fly in a V-shaped formation. Also known as a skein, these birds fly in this manner because of efficiency issues. Migration is a physical challenge for an individual goose or duck. Flying hundreds of kilometres is no laughing matter, if birds can actually laugh. They can't by the way.

Formation flying increases the range of the flock by 70-80%. Hence instead of 100km that a goose can fly while migrating, a flock can do 170km.

The lead bird does majority of the work. The others just catch the draught and glide along. Whenever the lead bird tires, the bird at either tip of the formation takes over. I don't know which one, the left or the right, will do the swap, I'm sure they give some audible signal of sorts.

But that's not the only amazing feat. A sick goose that needs to fall out of the formation will never be alone. The bird to its front and back, or nearest pair, will fall out together and nurse it back to health before following the next skein.

So are all geese altruistic by nature? Following that question would be to ask have all non-altruistic geese died off?

Next I want to ask is this:
  1. Is "communism" the only social system possible for insects like bees and ants? Would these insects have died off during the "evolutionary" cycles (not a question asked by those who believe in "intelligent design")?
  2. Do turtles ever miss their children? In accordance with "survival of the fittest", how does forsaking your babies ensure "survival"?
  3. Scavengers: will they prefer catching their own "fresh" food or insist only on leftovers?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi bro, your intelligent lil' sister has some answers after some googling n thinking.
1. Bees die after one sting. Ants get squashed so easily. To ensure survival, they have to move in groups. Just like animals (includes Man) who travel in packs or herds. We are bigger in size so our community unit is smaller - Family, Society, Country, World. Father is usu. breadwinner who contributes to the country's economy to help the welfare policies in education n health. Bees collect honey to help their community propogate. In addition, these insects lay millions of eggs and chances of surviving is high since they're small and hide in cracks or hives so their eggs would usu. hatch before some enemy destroys them. I am not explaining myself well but i reckon u get the idea. If ants were to travel in groups of 3, i think they'll die easily and probably by accidental stampedes.

2. No. Instinct of turtles' hatchlings to move towards bright lights and the ocean reflects moon/sunlight. Besides, the mothers would dry up on land if they were to incubate their babies since sea turtles 'loses' their ability to 'retract' their head and legs and 'walk' on land once they begin their life in the sea. They live till ripe old age and mate once every 2-5yrs with 9 clutches of 150eggs. That's 9 clutches X 150eggs X 100yrs/5yrs = 27000eggs per female. Probably 50% makes it to the sea. All u need is replacement rate higher than die out rate and since they live long and lay so many eggs, it works. Nowadays extinction is due to men poaching their eggs i guess.

3. Scavengers are natural. They work with what they're born with. A common eg would be vultures. Vultures may have razor sharp beaks to tear dead meat frm bones but they have weak claws thus they are not meant for hunting. They do kill small preys or sick or ill ones but they prefer to let others do the killing. Actually even hyenas and lions too. They're so lazy. I guess animals don't prefer or no pefer, they just do what's easiest/best for them with what they have. We're just trying to personify them by asking what they prefer.

Wah, i am so intellectual. :)