The Role of Culture in Human Development
Sharks have a reputation for being ruthless solitary predators, but a recent study documents how one population of blacktip reef sharks is actually organized into four communities and two sub-communities. This research demonstrates for the first time that adults of a reef-associated shark species form stable, long-term social bonds. (Mourier, Vercelloni, Planes, 2012, pp. 389-401) A study of timber rattlesnakes, long thought to be solitary creatures, has suggested that they may live a more complex social life. This study finds that rattlesnakes in captivity preferentially associate with relatives and use the sense of kin to guide them on where to forage and dwell. (Clark, Brown, Stechert, Greene, 2012, pp. 523-525) It seems likely that we shall find more instances of kinship among other species as research continues.
Over the past three decades researchers have developed a growing body of theory and evidence that cooperation has been a powerful force in evolution. Martin A. Nowak in an article entitled, “Why We Help” writes,
My work indicates that instead of opposing competition, cooperation has operated alongside it from the get-go to shape the evolution of life on earth, from the first cells to Homo sapiens. Life is therefore not just a struggle for survival–it is also, one might say, a snuggle for survival. And in no case has the evolutionary influence of cooperation been more profoundly felt than in humans. (Nowak, 2012, pp. 34-39)