Re: "Cross-specifically" - with an example added

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Fri, 26 Jul 1996 22:40:09 -0700

On Wed, 24 Jul 1996, Tibor Benke wrote:

> >>An elderly male mountain gorilla recently died, apparently of natural
> >>causes. He reportedly was severely impaired for several days before
> >>his death and was aided by other members of the group in climbing hills
> >>and otherwise keeping up with the group.
> What then does "altruistic" mean ? It seems to me that they helped him for
> any of those reasons, they had evolved more complex behaviors then
> immediate self gratification. That is, liking or needing someone for the
> stability of the social group either has survival value or it doesn't. I
> suspect, as with early hominids, his knowledge would have been valuable to
> the group had he lived a longer, thus, given that those who helped would
> not know (would lack forsight to even suspect) that he might be lost
> anyway, would develop the "urge" to help and this in the long run would be
> amplified because increased survival enhancing behaviors would be
> generated in the long run. Or am I missing something?

We're all missing something here-- needful facts. The typical group
of gorillas, after all, is an older "silverback" male, his harem, and
maybe some child gorillas. So is this group that we're hearing about
composed of several haremless males, or is it simply a routine
gorilla family with an old old male? Let's get an answer to that
and we can start speculating, if it still seems useful.

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge