He (Darwin) pointed at how in numberless animal societies, the struggle between separate individuals for the means of existence disappears, how struggle is replaced by cooperation, and how that substitution results in the development of intellectual and moral faculties which secure to the species the best conditions for survival. He intimated that in such cases the fittest are not the physically strongest, nor the cunningest, but those who learn to combine so as to mutually support each other, strong and weak alike, for the welfare of the community.
—  Mutual Aid; A Factor of Evolution : Peter Kropotkin
Paraphrasing ‘The Descent of Man’ Charles Darwin

I love when someone discovers something new and exciting!

 How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology - The Atlantic

In the 150 years since Schwendener, biologists have tried in vain to grow lichens in laboratories. Whenever they artificially united the fungus and the alga, the two partners would never fully recreate their natural structures. It was as if something was missing—and Spribille might have discovered it.

He has shown that largest and most species-rich group of lichens are not alliances between two organisms, as every scientist since Schwendener has claimed. Instead, they’re alliances between three. All this time, a second type of fungus has been hiding in plain view.  

“There’s been over 140 years of microscopy,” says Spribille. “The idea that there’s something so fundamental that people have been missing is stunning.”  

Strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations, in particular the African Union

Today, at its 6702nd meeting, the Security council will hold discussions on Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.The discussion will maliny focus on strengthening the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations, in particular the African Union, in the maintenance of international peace and security.

UN Resources:

Photo Source:UN Photo Library taken.28 November 2011United Nations, New York,Photo # 496372.


Brand new patch added to the store! Check it out HERE.

“A Garland for May Day- Dedicated to the Workers of the World and to the Defenders of the Earth.”

Based off Walter Crane’s 1895 illustration “A Garland for May Day”. Updated to reflect the struggles of today.

8″ x 11″

Reclaimed fabric

Crocodiles work as a team to hunt their prey

Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care, complex communication and use of tools for hunting.

New University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research published in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be.

Crocodiles and alligators were observed conducting highly organized game drives. For example, crocodiles would swim in a circle around a shoal of fish, gradually making the circle tighter until the fish were forced into a tight “bait ball.” Then the crocodiles would take turns cutting across the center of the circle, snatching the fish.

Sometimes animals of different size would take up different roles. Larger alligators would drive a fish from the deeper part of a lake into the shallows, where smaller, more agile alligators would block its escape. In one case, a huge saltwater crocodile scared a pig into running off a trail and into a lagoon where two smaller crocodiles were waiting in ambush – the circumstances suggested that the three crocodiles had anticipated each other’s positions and actions without being able to see each other.

Vladimir Dinets. Apparent coordination and collaboration in cooperatively hunting crocodilians. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03949370.2014.915432

Crows feed cuckoo chicks, get stinky defense against predators

Cuckoos aren’t so much parasites as running a protection racket.

By Rose Thorogood on Ars Technica

If you come across a young cuckoo in a bird’s nest this summer, you’ll be witness to one of the most bizarre sights in nature. Cuckoo chicks are interlopers in the nests of other species, and they can be seen being frantically fed by their unwitting foster parents even though they’re often many times larger than their hosts.

It makes you wonder: why on earth does this bird expend so much energy raising such clearly unrelated offspring? Or, more accurately, why haven’t all the species victimized by the cuckoo evolved some form of defense against this nest parasitism? The clue comes from thinking about this puzzle in terms of costs and benefits.

Raising a cuckoo chick often comes at an obvious cost. Common cuckoo chicks, for example, famously remove any host eggs or young from the nest within days of hatching. Chicks of some other cuckoo species will grow up alongside their host’s own offspring, yet they still remove competition. Magpie chicks often die of starvation when sharing a nest with great spotted cuckoo chicks, because the cuckoos beg to be fed more intensely. […]

By looking at the relationship between these species differently, the study, led by Daniela Canestrari, reveals that crows do not defend themselves because they actually benefit from having a cuckoo in the nest. Combining data collected over 16 years with careful field experiments, the study shows that nests containing cuckoos produce more crow chicks than those without. Better yet, the authors show how this entirely counter-intuitive end point comes about.

When disturbed, great spotted cuckoo chicks emit copious amounts of a sticky, smelly substance. The authors tested the novel hypothesis that this stinky substance deters predators from the nest. If cats and hawks were given tasty pieces of chicken meat that were smeared with the cuckoo’s excretion, these typical nest predators were repelled. This indicates that the cuckoo’s excretion is a very powerful defense mechanism, likely to save both cuckoo and crow chicks alike if a predator comes calling.

Read more

Do We Have Free Will?

Arriving home from work to find your partner toiling away in the kitchen, odds are you’ll jump in and help. That’s human nature. But if you’re flat out ordered to help? That’s a different story.

Remove the perception of choice and you’re in fact more likely to recoil from cooperation and go a different direction altogether. Maybe you suddenly have other plans for dinner.

The intricacies of free will — and how a belief in the notion, or lack thereof, impacts our behavior — are examined in a new study by UC Santa Barbara psychologists John Protzko and Jonathan Schooler. Their findings appear in the journal Cognition.

The results show that while people are intuitively cooperative, challenging their belief in free will corrupts this behavior and leads to impulsive selfishness. However, when given time to think, participants are able to override the inclination toward self-interest.

“Challenging a person’s belief in free will corrupts the more automatic and intuitive mental processes,” said corresponding author Protzko, a postdoctoral scholar in Schooler’s META (Memory, Emotion, Thought, Awareness) Lab in UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. “Our study suggests that a challenge to an individual’s belief in free will can shift this default mechanism — at least temporarily — to become intuitively uncooperative and cause an individual to act in their own self-interest.”

To test why discounting the existence of free will increases the likelihood of uncooperative behavior, Protzko and Schooler recruited 144 people to play an economic contribution game called Public Goods. Subjects chose how much of their own “money” to put into a public pot. Their contributions were doubled and the communal pot was evenly divided among the players. They were also able to keep the money they didn’t pool.

In one of two manipulations used to determine why behavior changes when free will is challenged, the investigators placed time constraints around participant contributions to the public pot. This, in essence, influenced the players’ sense of free will. Some subjects were told they must read instructions and decide how much to donate within 10 seconds; others were told to wait 10 seconds before making their decision.

A separate manipulation was presented in the guise of an unrelated pilot study to see if reading certain passages alters mood. The passage argued that neuroscience had recently proved that our decisions, or what we perceive as decisions, are made by complex brain interactions before we have conscious access to them. Control participants read an article on whether nuclear energy is environmentally friendly.

The researchers then assessed the degree of belief participants had in free will by asking them to rate, on a 1-100 scale, their agreement with the statement, “I have free will.” Those who read the neuroscience article agreed significantly less (75.6) than those who read the control passage (86.6).

“Challenging a person’s belief in free will did not seem to provide them with a conscious justification for uncooperative behavior,” Protzko said. “If it did, we should have observed fewer contributions when people were given adequate time to think about their decision on the amount to contribute.

“It’s very damaging to hear that we don’t have free will,” said Protzko. “Discounting free will changes the way we see things. Yet given time, we recover and go about our lives as though nothing were different.”