Category Archives: Nature

Cuckoos, dragonflies, Bonobo monkeys and the Law of Gene Preservation

Translated from Russian original by Joanna Dobson

Question from reader N:

Dear Author,

Your theory on the Law of Gene Preservation is totally indefensible! Take for example the cuckoo. As soon as the cuckoo has laid its egg it puts it into the nest of another bird and forgets about it forever. The other bird sits on the egg until the chick hatches and sometimes even nurses it.  Is the Law of Gene Preservation working here?

Author’s reply:

Dear Reader N,

Here the maternal instinct may be absent in the cuckoo, but in no way is the Law of Gene Preservation absent! If the Law of Gene Preservation did not work among cuckoos they would throw their eggs away, or even worse, eat them. On the contrary, cuckoos only put their eggs in the nests of birds when they are certain that the other bird will sit on their eggs until they hatch and then feed their chicks. In this way, the cuckoo gene is preserved.  All living beings in nature are subject to the Law of Gene Preservation, otherwise they would not survive.

Reader X:

I would like to add one more example to illustrate the working of the Law of Gene Preservation and its precedence over the Basic Instinct. From Wikipedia: Dragonflies mate on the fly. The secondary copulative apparatus in males is highly specialised and has no analogy among other insects. The male dragonfly removes any sperm left by a previous male before inseminating the female with his own. The females of some species (dragonflies) mimic the colouring of the males to reduce the amount of attention they receive so that they can move more quickly to the egg-laying stage.

Author:

That’s a wonderful example. Thank you!

 

Reader A.K.:

Dear Author,

You claim that animals do not have Freedom of Choice. Allow me to contradict you there. The female Bonobo monkey often gives herself to the male, who brings her a large ripe banana. In other words, does she not make a choice to reject the other males? Could you say that there is a kind of prostitution among bonobos?

Author:

Dear A.K.,

This is quite different to the kind of Choice that people are capable of making. The female bonobo operates exclusively according to her innate programming to choose the best genes to cross with her own. It is not as if she can take precautions! Here there can be no great surprises and so there is no real free choice, or for that matter, prostitution. The whole process is totally determined. A female bonobo will never choose a sick, weakling male who can’t get for her a large ripe banana. Despite the genetic similarity between the bonobo and human beings that make them our close relatives in the animal kingdom, we cannot claim that we are identical.  Surely you must have heard of cases when the beautiful, clever sportswoman marries the ugly, weakling, unattractive youth of little promise shocking all her friends and family and vice versa? The predictability of individual human Choice is only probabilistic, although public choices, as the totality of large numbers of individual choices, can be predicted with great accuracy.