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

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.”


16 Worker Coops Redefining the Cooperative Movement

The worker cooperative movement has hit a new stride. Re-emerging in the 1960s, cooperatives tend to elicit thoughts of natural food stores and specialty bookshops but the movement has grown to include tech companies, coworking spaces, international businesses, large factories and much more

In an effort to find some of the most interesting and innovative worker cooperatives around, Shareable turned to the crowd. We asked our friends at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the P2P Foundation, the Democracy at Work Network, and our own Sharing Cities Networkfor their favorites. Here’s what we found.

1. Enspiral

A “virtual and physical network of companies and professionals working together to create a thriving society,” Enspiral is a three-part collective consisting of a foundation; services including web design, communications, accounting and legal; and a startup support venture. Based in New Zealand, the collective has members around the world and operates on the principles of collaboration and decentralized decision-making. One of the coops standout projects is Loomio, a free, open source platform that enables people to collaborate in decision-making.

2. Seikatsu

A network of buying clubs with over 300,000 members, the Seikatsu Club in Japan originated in 1965 as a way for families to get a bulk rate on milk. Over the last 50 years, it has expanded to include thousands of organic, non-GMO foods and environmentally-safe household products. In 1995, Seikatsu formed its first worker coop. It now has 600 of them, employing over 17,000 people in food distribution, food preparation, catering, recycling, childcare, education and more.

3. OpenSpace Cooperative

OpenSpace is a cooperatively-owned and operated coworking space in Manchester, England. Like other coworking spaces, OpenSpace is a place for freelancers, independent professionals and small business owners to work in a collaborative environment. But unlike other coworking spaces, OpenSpace members have the perks of being owners including lower rent and having a say in governance and membership issues.

4. gcoop

Based in Buenos Aires, gcoop Development Company is a cooperative that develops free software under the guiding principle that knowledge is built with contributions from many and that software, like knowledge, should be free.

5. Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives

An association of six cooperative bakeries and a development and support collective, Arizmendi is itself a worker cooperative located in the Bay Area. The cooperative’s mission includes ensuring opportunities for workers’ control of their livelihood; developing as many dignified, decently paid work opportunities as possible; and promoting cooperative economic democracy as a sustainable and humane option for our society.

6. Si Se Puede Women’s Coop

Based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Se Se Puede is a women-run, women-owned, eco-friendly housecleaning cooperative made up of immigrant women. Designed to create living wage jobs done in a safe and healthy environment, Si Se Puede also provides social supports and educational opportunities for its members.

7. CoLab

Using lean startup philosophy and “deep collaboration” CoLab Cooperative builds technology solutions for social enterprises. With team members around the world, the coops headquarters are the CoLab Hive, a coworking space in Ithaca, New York.

8. Argentina’s Recovered Factories

Following the Argentine economic collapse of 2001, numerous factories were closed down, leaving employees out of work. The solution to this problem came when thousands of employees occupied their factories, demanded the right to work, and restarted production as worker cooperatives.

9. Mondragon Corporation

Often held up as an example of the potential of worker cooperatives, the Mondragon Corporation is an enormous cooperative federation that employees over 80,000 people and operates in four areas: finance, industry, retail, and knowledge. Based in the Basque region of Spain, Mondragon is the seventh largest Spanish company and a presence on the international market, with 97 locations worldwide and distribution of products to 150 countries.

10. Cooperative Home Care Associates

A cooperative of home care workers, the Cooperative Home Associates organization started in the Bronx in New York in 1985 with 12 home health aides. It now has over 2,000 workers, making it the largest worker cooperative in the U.S. The organization trains hundreds of low-income and unemployed women annually and is a driving force for local employment.

11. Deca Stories

A cooperative of journalists from around the world, Deca Stories brings “deeply reported” stories directly to readers via ebooks and the platform’s app.

12. Suma

Started in 1975, Suma is the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler/distributor. Owned and managed by the workers, who are all paid the same amount, the company specializes in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic, ethical and natural products.

13. Ginger Moon

A mother-owned worker cooperative, Ginger Moon provides “emotional, mental and culinary support to pregnant women, women that had just given birth and women that are nursing.” Through meal preparation education, workshops, in-home cooking and more, the New York-based Ginger Moon supports families in giving babies (and moms) a healthy start. Environmentally and socially aware, the coop sources organic, local and fair trade food and is working toward a goal of zero waste.

14. New Era Windows and Doors

In 2008, the owners of Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago announced that they were closing the factory. In 2012, the employees joined forces to buy the company. The result is New Era Windows and Doors, a worker cooperative that builds and sells top-quality doors and windows and models the power and potential of worker cooperatives.

15. Sustainable Economies Law Center

The Bay Area-based Sustainable Economies Law Center is a multi-faceted organization working to bridge the gap between existing legal framework and healthy, equitable, resilient communities. Committed to supporting developing and existing cooperatives, SELC is itself a worker coop based on equal pay and cooperative governance.

16. CERO Coop

A worker cooperative in Massachusetts, CERO works toward zero waste by partnering with companies for source separation, waste removal and composting. The coops long-term vision includes complete cycles of food production, waste reduction, reuse and recycling, environmental stewardship, meaningful jobs and sustainable communities.

Bacteria cooperate to repair damaged siblings

A University of Wyoming faculty member led a research team that discovered a certain type of soil bacteria can use their social behavior of outer membrane exchange (OME) to repair damaged cells and improve the fitness of the bacteria population as a whole.

Daniel Wall, a UW associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, and others were able to show that damaged sustained by the outer membrane (OM) of a myxobacteria cell population was repaired by a healthy population using the process of OME. The research revealed that these social organisms benefit from group behavior that endows favorable fitness consequences among kin cells.

Wall says, to the research group’s knowledge, this is the first evidence that a bacterium can use cell-content sharing to repair damaged siblings.

“It is analogous to how a wound in your body can be healed,” Wall says. “When your body is wounded, your cells can coordinate their functions to heal the damaged tissue.”

Wall was the senior and corresponding author on a paper, titled “Cell Rejuvenation and Social Behaviors Promoted by LPS Exchange in Myxobacteria” that was published in the May 18 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

(Image: Michiel Vos) - Antisocial Behavior in Cooperative Bacteria (or, Why Can’t Bacteria Just Get Along?). PLoS Biology Vol. 3/11/2005, e398 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030398

Some 100,000 Myxococcus xanthus cells amassed into a fruiting body with spores.

Cooperating bacteria paint Van Gogh patterns

“Stronger together” : Indeed together cells can face environmental challenges that they separately cannot, which is a property well-known of multicellular organisms. It was recently shown that even bacteria can cooperate in order to migrate in filamentous loops called “Van Gogh bundles”. Migration is allowed by the coordination of two types of cells : matrix-producing cells form the bundle while surfactin-producing cells secrete the slippery track on which the bundles can move and push themselves from the colony.

Above : Red and green fluorescent cells represent, respectively, surfactin- and matrix-producing cells in the double-labeled PtapA-CFP PsrfA-YFP WT strain (CFP and YFP are artificially colored green and red, respectively).

van Gestel et al., PLOS Biology 2015

What Libra values the most: true cooperation. While cooperation doesn’t sound too important it is what Libra ultimately desires from friends and lovers. They want a teammate, a true partner, someone who is an equal not a caretaker, provider, or friends with benefits. Cooperation is key to having this team dynamic.