Most of the time, our genes have common interests with our "self".

We reproduce well if and only if our genes reproduce well.

In some cases, like in bees, the haploid bees can survive better if they help their queen reproduce.

In humans and other species, are there samples that give individuals "incentive" to help non family member to reproduce for the sake of their genes.


  1. No filial altruism
  2. No reciprocal altruism

So I need a sample between individual based evolution and gene base evolution.

For example, many genocide are done against the best and brightest. I wonder what sort of genes encode "kill the best and brightest" and how does that kind of gene survive well in the gene pool?


The prototypical example of this is t, whose existence was predicted by Robert Trivers and featured prominently in the Selfish Gene. The current dominant point of view in evolutionary biology is that genes act in their own interest and even the 'self' is just a manifestation of the gene's reproductive properties.

t is a locus in some male mice. The t gene characterizes very well the selfishness of a selfish gene. While most paternal genes are found in 50% of offspring, t is found in over 3/4 of offspring. Somehow it manages to reproduce at the expense of the other loci in the male mouse. t itself is not known to convey any advantages to its host organism. the males tend to be smaller and sometimes even reproductively disadvantaged.

Does that go some way to answering this question?

Animal behavior such as cheating or adopting are often interpretable as reproductive advantages. Killing the best and brightest definitely are to the advantage of those who are doing the killing. This SNL Skit has always said it best to me. "... and now I am smart!". Such kill offs so rarely include killing one's own offspring. I'm not sure they can be called in conflict with reproductive advantage. EO Wilson's essay "On Human Nature" does a reasonable case for saying that wars and famines are in fact produced by evolutionary advantage, however cruel and ugly they may be.

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    $\begingroup$ And what stops t from dominating and be found in all mice? Oh because it creates weaker male? $\endgroup$ – user4951 Jun 28 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ you got it. that's in fact the most famous thing about Selfish Genes - they propagate themselves at the expense of the organism that contains them. This parasitic case of the gene is not a great strategy but it proves that genes compete directly. Are there other types of competition? not everyone agrees :) $\endgroup$ – shigeta Jul 6 at 21:38

Complex behaviours like altruism rarely boil down to a single gene, so it's hard to find a concrete example.

This is one lead: http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/10/28/scan.nsq083.full

If you think about it, being altruistic is detrimental to your personal fitness, but inproves the fitness of the population (within certain parameters).

I've only ever heard of clear examples of this in simple game-theoretic simulations.

There may be some good examples here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kin_selection


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