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Wild African Dogs Practice This Democratic Exercise
These may not be the only social predators that do.
Most expert sources say that all types of dog pack behavior emanates from wolves, their common ancestor. Here, the alpha male and alpha female are thought to form an absolute monarchy to which, all other members are bound to serve and obey. A new study published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found a different model, one more democratically inspired. The study surrounds African Wild Dogs, one of the most endangered species in the world. There are only 6,600 left at last count.
Their territory is threatened due to disease outbreaks, environmental fragmentation, and deadly interactions with our species. A collaborative team from the US, UK, and Australia, work together to monitor this free-roaming species, at the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. Experts there found that these wild dogs actually hold a quorum or political gathering to practice parliamentary procedure as to whether or not they should move or hunt.
The dogs hold meetings known as rallies. So far, researchers have witnessed 68 such events. These occur before the group takes action. What the dogs do is sneeze in order to vote in ascent. These wild canines sneeze much like we do, in short, sharp bursts. Researchers in the study call a vote-sneeze an “audible, rapid forced exhalation through the nose.”
African Wild Dogs hold quorums over whether to hunt or rest. By: Amanda Black, Pexels.
The dogs will go out and hunt in packs only when enough sneezes are uttered. Reena Walker is a co-author of the study. She’s a research technician at the Trust. “The sneeze acts as some kind of signal that shapes decision-making,” she said.
When these rallies were initiated by the dominant male or female, it was more likely that they'd go out hunting. A lower sneeze threshold was required. But it wasn’t a certainty. An overwhelming vote against doing so might overrule the head dog.
When a canine from a lower social strata suggested a hunt, around ten sneezes on average was the threshold. But when a higher level dog suggested it, only three were needed, on average. Most packs have around 10 members, but some can grow as large as 40. Walker and colleagues observed five packs, each with 4-15 adult or nearly adult dogs.
Researchers originally wanted to know how the dogs mark their territory. They began observing them for long stretches and wondered why they were sneezing so much. Then, Professor Neil Jordan of the University of New South Wales noticed a pattern. He was the senior author of the study.
He and colleagues then followed the dogs around Moremi Game Reserve and studied their behavior for over a year. The more sneezing that occurred, the more likely it was that the pack would go hunting. The quorum, known as a rally, starts out with all the dogs greeting each other, wagging their tails, and running around excitedly, socializing with one another.
Meerkats also vote, by screeching. Getty Images.
Though we find their behavior heartwarming, we humans sometimes confuse a dog's over-exuberance with a simplistic mindset. When in actuality, dogs may be capable of far more complex behavior than thought.
“There is indeed a more democratic process for daily activities and group decisions,” Walker said. Other experts called the findings fascinating. While Harriet Davies-Mostert, who heads the Endangered Wildlife Trust in South Africa, said she hadn’t witnessed this ritual in her dog packs, which may indicate that only the dogs in Botswana do this.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. These packs are highly organized. To be able to take down a gazelle, their favorite food, there needs to be significant communication and organization. And other animals outside of these also make sounds of ascent, including meerkats who screech, honeybees who do something called “piping,” and monkeys and mountain gorillas, who consent through grunts, before leaving to settle new territory.
To learn more about this Wild African Dog discovery, click here:
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.