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The study of evolution is revealing new complexities, showing how the traits most beneficial to the fitness of individual plants and animals are not always the ones we see in nature. Instead, new research by behavioral scientists shows that in certain cases evolution works in the opposite direction, reversing individual improvements to benefit related members of the same group.

The research lead author David Fisher shows that the increased evolution of selfless traits – such as sharing food and keeping watch for one another – is mathematically equivalent to the decreased evolution of individually beneficial traits.

“On one side, traits evolve that benefit your kin, but don’t benefit you, because you’re helping your siblings or cousins. On the other side, traits that benefit you but cost your neighbors don’t evolve, because you’re causing damage to related individuals”, Fisher explains.

The work is part of the ongoing effort to understand the paradox of altruistic behavior in the wild, explains Fisher, a research fellow in McMaster’s Department of Psychology,Neuroscience and Behaviour. (1)

We seek evolution in all the wrong ways.

For true evolution is not about preserving life.

True evolution is about reaching death.

For only through death can we touch the essence of life.

And discover the meaning of existence.

Look at all those people living.

They know nothing about death.

And if not…

How can they know anything about life?

Wise men across the centuries sought not to preserve life.

But to remind us of death.

A death we have already experienced.

But that we choose to forget every day.

At the end, life and death do not matter.

Helping your self is helping others.

Helping others means helping yourself.

Look at your image in the mirror.

Can you clap with one hand?

Laugh.

Dance.

And the cosmos will die…

Can you feel the flowers grow?