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Animals which attack their cousins

  1. Nov 7, 2009 #1
    Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Besides humans, what are the most advanced animals to attack their own species because of dissimilar genetic traits - e.g., racism, disability bias or sexism.

    Could this be explained in terms of natural selection?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2009 #2
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Killer bees spring in my mind, if you accept subspecies differences as "racial". May be a bit forced, but it marginally fits.
  4. Nov 8, 2009 #3
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Sorry for my lack of detail, but I was watching a discovery channel show a few years ago and remember them showing a pack of monkeys hunt down and kill/eat a different species of monkey.
  5. Nov 8, 2009 #4
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Also male lions will often kill the cubs of another lion. They do this so the lioness having the cubs will become available for reproduction faster, so they have a better chanche of propagating their own genes.

    And lets not forget the legendary black widow and the praying mantis, where female will devour the male after copulation.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  6. Nov 8, 2009 #5

    D H

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    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Wolves not only kill coyotes, they also kill other wolves. Sans humans, the greatest threat to a wolf pack is another wolf pack.
  7. Nov 8, 2009 #6
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    I think chimps, other than humans, come closest to killing out of hatred. They also are most closely related to us.
  8. Nov 8, 2009 #7


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    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    While we can identify species that kill members of their own species (it would be a long list; fights to the death in the animal kingdom are fairly commonplace), to assign any sort of motive is nothing short of anthropomorphism and idle speculation. Even when we can observe patterns to the behavior that seem to serve functions, we cannot read the mind of the animal to know if it is in any way aware of that function, or just acting on some innate drive.
  9. Nov 9, 2009 #8


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    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Remember: this is a science forum, you will need to come up with a citation for controversial claims!
  10. Nov 11, 2009 #9
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Not strictly true. Bonobos are a closer relation and they are a pretty laid back lot. I don't know of any reported bonobocides in the literature.
  11. Nov 11, 2009 #10
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    I wonder if the hypotheses of Konrad Lorentz in his book on aggression are still valid.

    He suggests that animals with natural weapons (fangs, horns, canines etc) which are potent enough to kill fellow specimens instantenously, are inhibited to do so by instinct and the proper rituals. For instance when a wolf loses the fight with a competitor, the loser would turn his neck towards the winner. He only has to snap and kill. But it does not happen, he can't, because of an instinctive inhibition.

    Species that don't have that instant kill ability, would also lack the inhibition not to speciecide (if homicide refers to homo-humans) because in a conflict the loser can run and hide. So they would kill mercilessy when given a motive and a chance if the other cannot flee somehow, according to Lorentz

    I wonder if animal psychology has progressed since then.
  12. Nov 11, 2009 #11
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    There are similar discussion on human behavior, in popular literature in USA you can find support for this theory in Lt. Col. Dave Grossman books , "On combat" & "On kill". He makes a nice case for this theory, that we all poses a a great inhibition against taking a life.

    However, Im not very sure this does happen. For example, I would really like to see convincing data that a wolf submitting to an alpha male becomes so "retarded" to give his neck to the winner.

    I seen dogs fighting for females, and this will never happen. Should one win, the other will use posture to indicate defeat. However, it doesn't offer his neck to the winner. Should the attack continue after posturing, the weaker male will just vacate the premises, running with his tail between his legs. For his life. I doubt it will happen in wolfs.

    While humans may have inhibitions against killing, I don't believe it's anything instinctive. More like, social inhibitions. Which are observed by many, but not all.

    After all, we are a specie who is adept at killing. Not only the apex predator in the ecosystem, but also strong observers of "Homo homini lupus" principle. We are after all the species who invented terrorism, concentration camps & Zyclon B, inquisition, resource wars, the jihad, the communist system, politic police, gulag, nuclear mass destruction devices, anti personal mines, chemical warfare, biological warfare.

    What for, I would ask, if animals possess such a strong instinct against killing ?
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2009
  13. Nov 11, 2009 #12
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Well Konrad Lorentz concludes that we do not have the natural weapons, and therefore we also don't have a natural instinctive inhibition against homicide.

    On the other hand I think that there is another instinctive mechanism to shield fellow species members against harm, which obviously is benificial for the survival of the species. So chivalry could still be natural.


    The list is far from complete, but if we'd include 'witch hunt' then the mechanism behind may be getting more clear. Maybe that because we are a social species, it could be that we require social behavior as mechanism against external treats. Therefore perhaps we need an enemy or scapegoat to be frightened of.

    How would that mechanism work? The enemy of my enemy is my friend, so if I clearly indicate who my enemy is, who treatens the world, the out-group, then individuals who share the same enemy become my friends, helping me. And voila, there is an agressive mechanism justifying crusading against the enemy and my friends will help me to save the world.

    So if this accumulates to huge proportions we invent ultimately zyclon B and jihads

    See also
    Folk Devils and Moral Panic, wiki's here and here, groupthink, furthermore groupshift and the Abiline paradox on how those excesses emerge.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2009
  14. Nov 11, 2009 #13
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Ill read the materials provided tommrow and then discuss.

    Perhaps. But I would like to offer an alternative to Lorentz's conclusion that we have no natural weapons. Human brain is the ultimate natural weapon. It's what H bomb is to a neolithic knife, compared to claw and teeth.

    Not to mention that against another unarmed individual we have enough "standard" natural weapons. Knees, elbows, fists, locks ... they can be pretty effective in killing someone.

    Chivalry indeed comes natural in some cases. I would say, most of those cases when you feel you can dominate the situation and save someone. But if you feel dominated, you are screwed. You'll submit , run away, and do nothing but go home and crawl into a hole. In the best case you'll call police while running, if you can remember where your cell phone is. Its not a pretty sight, but I think too few humans have Lancelot material in them.

    An example:

  15. Nov 11, 2009 #14
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    But what happens when the species is an apex predator ? Other species does not represent anymore a real threat. The true competition comes form the members of the same species. We have to populate the same territory, and we eat from the same plate. We compete for same resources. The biggest threat becomes your fellow specie member.

    What would happen ? Chivalry ? Or a selfish drive to propagate one's genetic material ?
  16. Nov 12, 2009 #15


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    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    Yes, a great deal. Lorenz's work was done without benefit of modern knowledge about contributions of the fields of neuroscience and endocrinology. His work is learned by students of animal behavior much the way psychology students learn about Freud's work, except that Lorenz's work does still remain useful for the basic descriptions of animal behavior. It is not useful for the theories about why it happens.
  17. Nov 27, 2009 #16
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    I was lead to believe the mascot for one of my alma maters,

    the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TL8pSFd-hQ" aka Athene cunicularia, commits siblicide. But I am not finding conclusive evidence of this except for the fact that some owl and avian species commit one or both acts.

    "Although fratricide may have caused some
    mortality before fledging, we observed no
    agonistic encounters between siblings."
    , Richard S. Gleason',- and Donald R. Johnson', 1985, 'Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow. Idaho 83843.

    The follwing research mentions nothing about siblicide.

    In POST-FLEDGING SURVIVAL OF BURROWING OWLS IN SASKATCHEWAN. Int The Journal of Wildlife Management yr:2003 vol:67 iss:3 pg:512. L. Danielle Todd, Ray G. Poulin, Troy I. Wellicome and R. Mark Brigham.

    They were cute little buggers. I would toss beatles to the chicks that were located next to the schools pratice soccer field.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  18. Nov 27, 2009 #17
    Re: Animals which attack their "cousins"

    There was shown on TV cliff-dwelling raptors, of which the stronger first born would peck its twin to death.

    My girlfriend was horrified.
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