Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Wealth inequality… in animals?

arroba Email

Is this even sane?:

Wealth inequality is a research topic typically reserved for humans. Now, research from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests that studying wealth inequality in animals can help shed light on social evolution. Adapting approaches from the study of wealth inequality in humans, the researchers show how wealth—in the form of material goods, individual attributes, or social connections—occurs broadly across animal species and can be distributed equally or unequally. This framework offers the opportunity to unite different corners of evolutionary biology under the umbrella of wealth inequality, exploring the idea that the unequal distribution of value, whatever form that value may take, has important consequences for animal societies.

Max Planck Society, “Studying wealth inequality in animals can reveal clues about how their societies evolved” at Phys.org (May 3, 2022)

Dare we even ask?

Note: At present, we can’t find a link to the page and it may be a hoax. But these days, who knows? It’s not April 1 though…

In my neighborhood, it's only the female rabbits that bear the young and take care of them. Stupid sexist misogynistic jerk male rabbits! EDTA
Inequality is what drives human progress. But only under certain conditions. Without it, would we be just like animals? It wasn’t till freedom was introduced that human progress skyrocketed. So it’s not surprising that animals have not progressed. The concept of freedom as is currently understood in humans is not one that animals can fathom let alone implement. Whatever inequality there is, it is having a much different effect on animals. jerry
The paper is here. Polistra's right: the idea that there are inequalities in animal societies isn't novel (the paper is part of a special issue on dominance hierarchies). Transferring ideas from one area of study to another isn't uncommon, and here it seems a natural fit. Bob O'H
It appears to be no hoax. From reading, it seems to build on the seminal works of Grahame and Milne in “the Wind in the Willows” and “Winnie-the-Pooh” respectively. Both authors use the device of anthropomorphic characters, essentially protagonists in the half-way stage between animal and man, as outlined by Darwin. Grahame, through the character of Toad, deals with the problem of inherited wealth and the non-productive squandering of it while Milne examines the presence of the straight-out moocher in society, Pooh, who eats freely on the charity of others while cornering luxuries like honey. The authors admit the difficulty of an appropriate metric for calculating wealth equality and it is possible this will be covered in the next grant. Perhaps News can make this a calendar item for 2023? Belfast
Depends on how you define wealth. Wealth as measured by stored food might only be meaningful for squirrels. Wealth as measured by number of mates, or number or subordinates, would be common among many social animals. For sure STATUS is an innate property for all social animals, and comparative status is an innate measurement, probably parallel to physical location. http://polistrasmill.com/2022/04/16/statusotopic-mapping/ polistra

Leave a Reply