Altruism as Darwinian natural selection: How rats help natural selection
|August 26, 2010||Posted by O'Leary under Evolutionary psychology|
Carrying some groceries home from the plaza today, I came across an interesting sight:
Note: More altruism vs. Darwinism stories here.
A rat in broad daylight. We see this sometimes here, in good years for rats. The rat rushed into traffic and got its right hind foot run over.
I wasn’t about to rush out to rescue it. I knew it would bite very deep, and might have rabies.
(Rats are nocturnal, generally. A common feature of rabid nocturnes is diurnal restlessness and weird behaviour. Indeed, a biologist friend commented that about half of skunks seen in broad daylight have or are carrying rabies. So why not rats?)
The anti-rabies series of injections is not quite as much fun as the Cannes Film Festival. If all you want is second place, for pure, unadulterated fun, okay maybe.
I hoped someone would just run over the tormented, whirling rat and end its misery.
But car after car swerved into the left lane, to avoid further harming it.
I was becoming concerned, but finally someone did just run it over and obliterate it, which was really the only solution.
Now, what, I wonder, is the Darwinist explanation for what I witnessed, given that rats are widely regarded as a disease vector, routinely killed, and once carried off a third of the population of Europe (bubonic plague)? Obviously, that rat was helping natural selection in some way, right? Someone can get a grant for a research paper explaining all this, according to Darwin. I think, knowing my own turf, I’d come up with something that did not involve Darwinism.