Re: Q: Ant colonies and capitalism?

Date: Mon Jan 08 2001 - 12:13:42 MST

Eliezer writes, quoting Hal:
> > One example I can think of is sperm cells, which compete to see which can
> > get into the egg first.
> Sperm compete with other males' sperm.

I meant that they would be competing with other sperm cells from the
same male, the same insemination. There is a race to the finish line
and the fastest and fittest sperm gets there first.

> I don't think there's any
> correlation between the fitness of a particular sperm and the particular
> chromosome set a sperm contains, so it's hard to see how competion could
> occur or how artificial competition could be adaptive for the male.
> (Though the *female's* genes have an interest in combining only with
> healthy sperm.)

While sperm fitness would not correlate with the majority of phenotype
selective factors (like brains, brawn and beauty), it does relate to very
basis issues like DNA damage and metabolic fitness. Some sperm are pretty
pathetic and can barely survive, and there is a good chance that something
is wrong with their DNA. The "swim for life" is a blunt filter but one
which plausibly plays a role in maintaining evolutionary fitness.

> > Speaking of the sperm example, I've also read that bees use competition
> > to decide which get to reproduce, in much the same way. The queen bee
> > flies as high as possible and only the strongest males can fly up to it
> > and mate. I don't know whether ants use a similar selection mechanism,
> > but it would make sense if they do.
> This is competition between reproductive entities, and thus not really a
> case in point.

All of the bees are from the same hive, as I understand it, so if we think
of the hive as a reproductive entity then this is competition within that
entity. In fact the bees are like sperm cells and the competition plays
the same role in terms of filtering out weaker and less fit individuals.


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