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Darwinian fairy tales: Do horses really think this way?

She's already spent many months scheming about his future - Darwinist/(a friend of) Kvetina-Marie

Darwinian fairy tales: Do horses really think this way?

From “Horse Blind Date Could Lead to Loss of Foal” (ScienceDaily, June 20, 2011), we learn that mares are more likely to miscarry their foals if they were taken away to be bred because of a complex Darwinian calculation their selfish genes are doing:

Fetal loss is a common phenomenon in domestic horses after away-mating, according to Ludek Bartoš and colleagues, from the Institute of Animal Science in the Czech Republic. When mares return home after mating with a foreign stallion, they either engage in promiscuous mating with the home males to confuse paternity, or, failing that, the mares abort the foal to avoid the likely future infanticide by the dominant home male.

Of course, the only reason the animal would engage in promiscuous mating on her return is so that her selfish genes can confuse paternity. And the only reason for casting the foal is that her selfish genes wish to hoard their potential.

No wonder evolutionary psychology is officially kaput, though horse traders don’t seem to have got the message.

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4 Responses to Darwinian fairy tales: Do horses really think this way?

  1. When mares return home after mating with a foreign stallion, they either engage in promiscuous mating with the home males to confuse paternity, or, failing that, the mares abort the foal to avoid the likely future infanticide by the dominant home male.

    Apparently, the “selfish genes” of the “dominant home male” are bright enough to both understand and care about paternity, but not quite bright enough to understand that an influx of foreign genes into the particular gene pool they control/dominate gives them even more, and healthier, opportunities to propagate themselves.

  2. What evidence is there that any horse knows or cares how foals originate? Surely, a stallion “does it” because he likes it, and a mare gets pregnant because she is fertile. In due course she drops a foal and feeds it because she likes it, and anyway because she must.

    Of course, students who study Darwinism learn about the mysterious selfish gene, a master of long-range planning instead.

  3. A foal and his mummy are soon parted?

  4. You’re confusing evolutionary adaptation with “thought.”

    The horses do not “think” this way. They are probably unaware they are even performing this survival tactic. It has been programmed into their brains the same way a human reacts to having their hand burnt.

    It is hugely expensive for a mammal to produce an offspring. It is also psychologically traumatizing for a social animal (or relatively social animal) like a horse to lose its offspring. Therefore, this adaption, if it exists how it was described, would allow the greatest chance of survival for the LATER continuation of genes into the population.

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