Thursday, January 23, 2014
Insect Birth Control
A brief report in the New York Times discusses the discovery of something that biologists knew was there and at work in social insects colonies, but had never conclusively identified - the fertility-suppressing pheromone that queens give off to keep the other workers in the colony sterile, and thus non-reproductive. Yes, this handy pheromone keeps the ovaries of other ants or bees from properly developing.
Cooperation in the superorganism/colony isn't just by simple consent, but rather a negotiation of a variety of priorities and sometimes competing interests - at least from the point of view of natural selection...