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Feud over family ties in evolution

Prominent scientists dispute kinship’s role in self-sacrifice among highly social creatures

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4:01pm, September 1, 2010

A furor has broken out among biologists over ant specialist E.O. Wilson’s latest attack on a concept used to explain the origins of self-sacrifice in the dog-eat-dog world of evolution.

The debate centers around an idea called kin selection, which biologists use to understand altruistic behaviors such as honeybee workers raising the queen’s young but never having their own. These selfless workers would seem to lose out in the evolutionary struggle to pass along genes to the next generation. But according to the idea of kin selection, workers without young more than compensate by sharing in the reprod

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