The Wild World of Animal Sex

February 26, 2017

Jim Gill (WPR)

Almost every creature on the planet has sex, and when you consider the sheer variety of different mating behaviors and rituals in the natural world, it’s hard not to feel grateful. The hoops humans have to jump through to find a mate pale in comparison to what other species contend with: post-coital cannibalism, detachable sexual organs, or traumatic insemination, just to name a few.

Biologist Carin Bondar has devoted her career to exploring the myriad ways animals mate in the wild, and shared a few of the ingenious ways animals find each other, breed, and rear offspring.

This episode was produced in partnership with the Center for Humans and Nature, an organization that brings together scholars from a diversity of disciplines to think creatively about our relationships with nature and each other. What do you think evolution can tell us about love and morality? Share your thoughts at humansandnature.org. This episode was made possible through the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

Guest(s): 

Comments

So this show on gene vs group evolution is proof that academics sometimes get so self-involved, they miss the obvious.

The Term "cultural meme" has already been widely adopted by the non-academic media thus recognizing that the concept of the "selfish gene" has extended to group traits. Culture can (also) be a selfish gene.

If individual traits enhance the success of the group, and the genetics of members fit with those group memes, survival of individuals and groups are fostered together. This can explain bravery and empathy.

By definition, evolution is a feedback loop, not only between individual and natural environments, but between individuals and their groups. Individuals are shaped by groups, and shape their groups (i.e. culture) just as they shape their environment with farming and technology. This does not invalidate Dawkins, just takes his idea to the next step.

Given that even common culture recognizes that group/genetic evolution are not mutually exclusive, but instead symbiotic, why is David Sloan Wilson wasting his time arguing with a ghost that he concedes has few academic publications or peer review on the matter, and who peeked with a brilliant idea 40 years ago ? Life and academic careers are too short.

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