Fluid dynamics key in cooperative evolution
According to this recent physics study, cooperative behavior is stimulated by literal fluid flow.
“In a new study, physicists at the University of Notre Dame examined how the mechanical properties of an environment may shape the social evolution of microbial populations. Through computer simulations and analytical calculations, they determined the necessary properties of diffusion and flow that allow microbes to evolve stable social behavior. Their findings also allow for speculation that the evolution of single-cell organisms to multicellular organisms may have taken place in flowing fluids like rivers or streams as opposed to larger bodies of water such as oceans and lakes.”
Turns out “go with the flow” is much more than a metaphor. We need to circulate among each other to survive, let alone to thrive.
Cool. Thanks for posting, Ed. Indeed, our hyper-social human way of life, namely, complex contractual reciprocity (CCR), only works in a socially and culturally dynamic environment. We all live in such an environment, a bit more so if you are liberal vs. conservative. Successful cultures are ones in which institutions exist that help provide a substantial degree of fitness-enhancing stability and predictability in each individual’s matrix of social exchange relationships, but that at the same time do not stifle the freedom of individuals to dynamically and iteratively optimize and re-optimize that same relational matrix and the various dyad-specific contracts that… Read more »
Considering the possible initial conditions favoring the rise of life is fascinating. The reference to microbial environments connected my thoughts to Pollan’s ‘How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence’. He spends time with sources who believe there’s evidence we’ve co-evolved with fungi and are ‘under their influence’ not only when we consume them but via their spores. That, in turn, reminded me of some parasites that clearly manipulate the behaviors of their hosts. Dennett and others talk about the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis that colonizes Cephalotes atratus ants.… Read more »
All of which points to coevolution between species within an ecological niche.* I’m also reminded that individuals do not evolve; that happens at the population level.**