Are We More Selfish Then Animals?

Are you a Letter Inner or Not (Selfish)?

This question “Are We More Selfish Then Animals?” popped into my head while waiting frustrated and bewildered at the junction of my busy road. I counted the cars going past, the 22nd let me out! It took no more time for them but makes a massive difference to the poor sod waiting!

Givers, Takers, and Parasites.

We all experienced selfish behavior ranging from little to huge levels of selfishness, and even from those suppose to love us! We have all experience generosity, kindness, and unconditional acts of love. Are animals any better than us? Lets take a look;

Four main types of interactions between animals including Us; 

Altruistic – Animals that behave in ways that reduce their fitness but increase the fitness of other individuals in the population (sacrifice). Extreme examples of sacrifice are shown in protecting young. One example is matriphagy (the consumption of the mother by her offspring) in the spider Stegodyphus. We do not let our own children eat us BUT they can suck us dry, however we would die for them.

Commensalism – Relationship between two organisms where one is helped and the other is unaffected. Example the Anemone fishes (Nemo) or Clown fishes (Fig 1) – live amid the tentacles of the anemones which protects them from predators. Predators are poisoned by the nematocysts (stinging cells) of the anemones.

Fig 1. Clown Fish
Fig 1. Clown Fish (Who you calling Selfish?)

Parasitic – One organism, the parasite, lives off of another organism, the host, harming it and possibly causing death. The parasite lives on or in the body of the host. A few examples of parasites are tapeworms, fleas, barnacles, and humans. Parasitic people – those that expect everything and take without giving and hurt us along the way.

Mutualistic – Two organisms of different species “work together,” each benefiting from the relationship. One example is that of the Oxpecker (Fig 2) a bird that eats the parasites from, rhinoceros, zebra, and the antelope.  In a relationship Two people working equally towards a common goal.

Fig 2. Oxpecker
           Fig 2. Oxpecker

SO where does that leave us?

Are we fundamentally self-interested? Studies have found that people’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete; that toddlers spontaneously help people in need.

Recent neuroscience studies have shown that when people behave altruistically, their brains activate in regions that signal pleasure and reward, similar to when they eat chocolate (or have sex). So does this mean we behave Altruistically because it makes us feel better therefore we are Selfish?

The evidence suggests we have deeply ingrained tendencies to act in either direction. Our challenge lies in finding ways to evoke the better angels of our nature. And that my friends comes down to CHOICE again.

When you see a poor fellow motorist waiting at a junction to come out- let them out, your feel good (like eating chocolate or having Sex) and your be a Altruist.




Sheep in Wolf Clothing

Sheep in Wolf clothing
Sheep in Wolf clothing


Many animals work an “honest” living through their size, strength, and hunting prowess to survive. Likewise, we do the same to get what we want in life. If we are lacking in some way, we do what animals do to survive;

Deception, Treachery, and Downright Fraud

A selection of animals have chosen deception, treachery, and downright fraud to either resemble dangerous animals for protection (defensive mimicry). For example the Milk snake (Fig 1). This beautiful harmless Snake has a coloration that mimics the highly venomous Coral Snake and in doing so avoids being eaten by predators, very clever!.

Milk Snake
Fig 1: Milk Snake

Some animals pass as a literal wolf in sheep’s clothing to get within striking distance of prey (aggressive mimicry).  A strange and rather morbid feat of deception shown by the Nimbochromis Cichlids (Fig 2) is to lie limply on their sides on the lake bottom. When a curious scavenging fish approaches, the fishy corpse suddenly “resurrects” into a truly lethal predator, consuming the curious investigator. The strange fish are often nicknamed “sleepers” due to their rather creepy hunting habits.

Fig 2. Nimbochromis cichlid (Sleepers)

Survival of the Adapters

Unlike animals, we no longer have predators to worry about that will eat us! But we do, however, have stresses like animals to either blend in or stand out. We can mimic a bad or good behavior of a person either consciously or subconsciously to be like them to impress. This is adapting to a situation so we can to control it. We do this like animals as a survival technique.

We are different.

A positive example of mimicry is emulating a positive role model to make a positive change in your life. A negative example would be a negative person imprinting on you. We are higher thinking animals and this is where the difference lies, the good news is we can control how we react to ANY situation.

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Dr Wendy Meddelton 


Change and Adapt – Be like a Cuttlefish

Male Cuttlefish with a Vivid Zebra Pattern
Fig 1: Male Cuttlefish displaying a Vivid Zebra Pattern

Change and Adapt FOR Survival – Be like a Cuttlefish. 

Change is inevitable and essential. We grow old; our bodies change, we go to school, change schools, we move Jobs, we move home, we can change our sexual orientation, we lose loved ones, we end relationship and friendships, we date new people and meet new people, we have children. The list goes on and on.

The BAD NEWS… Change is out of our control and will happen if we like it or not! The GOOD NEWS… We are in control of how we react, respond and adapt to change. 

In this series I will be using my PhD on Neurophysiology and degree in Zoology to draw comparisons with the mighty Cuttlefish (Cephalopod) and other extraordinary animals and how they have evolved to survive and thrive in a ever changing world and how this can help you.  Also, I will be using my 49 years of experience in the changing market both as an academic and business woman, and boy do I embrace change!  

My Aim is to provide an understanding, some comfort, and strategies that will help you survive and accept change. My wish for you is to flourish in our fast changing society in which ever way YOU choose!.

Cuttlefish change their skin color with elaborate patterns, and even texture, to fit in to their surroundings; to camouflage away from predators or to lay in ambush for prey or dazzle a mate. Can you relate to hiding under the radar and trying to be invisible, either at school, in the work place, when out, or even at home; to not get noticed? Or shown off in front of your peers, classmates, teachers, boss, or friends to impress them with displays of your brilliance ?!

Cuttlefish also use color to attract a mate and warn off rivals (Fig 1). They can also communicate a feeling through color and we also do the same. Another stunning example are the male Birds of Paradise which show impressive displays and plumage to attract a mate (Fig 2). While we do not display the same level of elaborate and intricate skin changes as the Cuttlefish or Plumage like the Birds of paradise, we do wear make-up and attractive clothes to attract a mate, we blush with shyness or sexual desire, we go red with anger or pale with fear.

Please add your comments below If you like this and want more

“Celebrate change because its happening ready or not”

Male Bird of Paradise
Fig 2. Male Bird of Paradise