Animal Adoptions Make No Evolutionary Sense, So Why Do They Happen?

Isabelle Catherine Winder and Vivien Shaw: Perhaps humans are not unique in their capacity for generosity after all? After all, animal behavior specialists have suggested that spontaneous generosity is actually well-known and it is well documented among other large-brained, highly-social animals, such as apes, dolphins and elephants. In addition to adoptions, chimpanzees routinely comfort the loser of a fight. They are also occasionally known to commit heroic acts of selflessness, like dying to rescue an infant from drowning. Attempts have been made to look for “hidden” relationships between helper and recipient, to make altruism “fit” with evolutionary selfishness. Perhaps instead we may just have to accept that humans are not unique in their capacity to care for and help each other.

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