Are Animals Altruistic?
Published December 12, 2016
In a recent study of humpback whales, scientists sought to better understand the presence of altruism (also known as selflessness) in the animal kingdom.
There are many stories of humpback whales seeming to "help" other animals, like seals. A photo of a whale assisting a seal unto an ice floe inspired research into 100 previously published humpback and orca whale interactions with various species.
Researchers concluded that while these whales had little to gain from meddling in other species’ interactions, they would do so to protect their own calves. There is no clear explanation for why whales have been seen assisting other animals, but the overall benefit to their species could be shown over time. Scientists concluded that while altruism may be a causal link, there needs to be more research done into the specific motivations of these species as a whole.
Read more of the study in Marine Mammal Science.