Democracy with wings
A flock of gray pigeons passed in the sky, they changed direction flexibly, drawing a beautiful arc. There are always pilots in the pigeon flock, guiding the direction of flight. However, the leader is not a fixed one or a few pigeons, every pigeon in the flock has the possibility of becoming a leader.
A researcher installed a miniature GPS (Global Positioning System) on the back of a group of pigeons to observe the role played by each pigeon in flight. They found that during the flight, at the beginning, after the pigeon as the pilot changes direction or flight mode, the pigeon flock will react the same after 0.4 seconds. However, the pigeon flock is not blindly following this pigeon from the start to the end. During the flight, if any pigeon makes a flight change, the pigeon flock will change accordingly. This means that the pigeon flock is not “one word”, there is only one leader, but a random leader system. Every pigeon has an equal status, and any pigeon may become the leader during the flight.
This ensures that the information can be transmitted in time, and the entire pigeon flock can make timely adjustments. After all, if you only follow the guidance of a pigeon, it will not be able to observe accurate information in all directions of a huge flock of pigeons in time, such as changes in wind and direction in a certain azimuth. Therefore, if there is only one pilot, it is very likely to cause problems in the flight of the pigeon flock. The final result of this kind of democracy in the pigeon flock is that the direction of the pigeon flock is jointly determined by the majority of pigeons.
Hoof voting democracy
There is an animal, they vote with their hooves. They are red deer. For most of the red deer’s life, apart from eating grass and eating fruits, they lie down and meditate, looking like wise men. When they decide whether to change places, they vote with their hoofs. Voting with hooves does not mean that they will raise their hooves and vote like humans, but stand up and vote yes.
The researchers found that only when 60% of the adult red deer stand up, the group of red deer will move. Of course there is a leader in the red deer herd, but having a leader does not mean autocracy. If the lead deer stood up and signaled to leave, and most of the red deer were still lying lazily, exuding an aura of rejection, then the lead deer would have no choice but to stand aside and wait until most of the red deer had enough rest. Then the deer will start. Even though the leading red deer may be more experienced and rarely make mistakes, the entire group is more inclined to make decisions made by most red deer than a single red deer.
Biologists believe that this kind of hoof-voting democracy makes it unlikely that a group’s decision-making is impulsive, because the voting time is buffered. Often individuals are more likely to make extreme decisions, and this kind of democracy is more beneficial to the group life of red deer.
In the vast African savannah, there is a strange phenomenon: a group of wild dogs gather together and sneeze. They all have a cold? No, they are voting.
Researchers found that before setting out to hunt for food, wild dogs would gather together to sneeze. Then, some wild dogs would set off, while others would stay in place or lie down to sleep or squat. Therefore, they speculated that sneezing played an important role in deciding who to hunt and who to stay.
After long-term observations, the researchers confirmed this conjecture that wild dogs vote by sneezing. Before hunting, the wild dog group will make sneezes one after another. The more sneezes, the more wild dogs voted in favor, and the action can be taken immediately. On the contrary, if only a few stray dogs are sneezing, and most of the stray dogs are sitting on the sidelines, then the operation will most likely fail.
In addition, when deciding to leave the original gathering place, wild dogs will also sneeze, and the minority obeys the majority to determine the direction of the group’s movement. Of course, wild dogs are different from humans. They are not a “one dog, one vote” system. In the entire group, the leading wild dog is more authoritative, and its three sneezes can match the ten sneezes of an ordinary wild dog. In this way, wild dogs maintain democracy within the group by sneezing.
However, sneeze democracy has a small flaw, that is, it is impossible to determine whether a certain wild dog is voting earnestly or it happens to have an itchy nose and sneeze, so that the accidental voting results will also be adopted. Of course, maybe wild dogs have their own way of judging whether it is a voting sneeze or a cold sneeze. For this, further observation and research by researchers are needed.
When it comes to cockroaches, most people’s reaction is probably disgust, and they want to kill them all. However, like humans, cockroaches also have democratic mechanisms. Can’t you think of it? Cockroaches’ democracy is very simple. It is reflected in that every cockroach’s status is equal, and their decisions are the result of collective negotiation. The communication between cockroaches is silent, they communicate through the chemical substances released by the individual, touch, sight, and smell.
In order to study the silent democracy of cockroaches, the researchers did an experiment. They caught 50 cockroaches, and there were three “small houses”, each of which could house 40 cockroaches. Soon, the 50 cockroaches were equally divided into two parts, each with 25 cockroaches, and they lived in two small houses, leaving one empty house. For further research, each of the small houses placed for the second time can hold more than 50 cockroaches. This time all 50 cockroaches live in one small house, leaving the other two empty houses.
From housing to the distribution of the number of people, the cockroach group strives to maintain the balance of resource allocation. In group life, individual cockroaches can get more mating opportunities, which is more conducive to the reproduction of cockroaches. In the process of distribution, there is no bias, and every cockroach has an equal opportunity. Therefore, for those who love democracy, even distribution is the best choice, regardless of whether there are other resources. This simple equality and simple democracy is conducive to the survival and development of cockroach groups.
However, in the above experiment, the 50 cockroaches that the researchers used for the study could be evenly distributed. If the number of cockroaches being studied is 51 instead of 50, how will the cockroaches be distributed and how will the extra cockroach be dealt with? This issue requires further observation by researchers to better understand the silent democratic mechanism of cockroaches.
Recent studies have shown that fish also have democracy, but their democracy may stem from “ignorance.”
Researchers at Princeton University in the United States did experiments with golden bream (a freshwater fish). They divided 11 fish into two groups, one group of 6 and the other group of 5, and trained them with blue and yellow food. The golden bream itself has its own color preference. They prefer yellow, so the five fish trained with yellow food have a stronger response to the target food. After the training is completed, put the group of fish together and place two different colors of food in two completely opposite directions. As a result, 6 fish will follow the 5 fish to move toward the yellow food. In this experiment, a few fish dominate.
Subsequently, the researchers put 5 untrained golden breams, also known as “ignorant fish”, into the pools with blue and yellow food at the two ends at the same time as the previous 11 fishes. experiment. They found that in multiple experiments, there is a 50% probability that the five fish will follow the majority, that is, follow the six fish and move in the direction of the blue food, although they prefer yellow food. When the number of “ignorant fish” increases to 10, there is a 60% probability that they will follow the majority and swim towards the blue food. As the number of untrained fish increases, the probability of following the majority increases, forming a form of “the minority obeys the majority”.
It can be seen that the “minority obeys the majority” democracy of Yuquan is dominated by “ignorant masses”.
Animals that fly in the sky, run on the ground, swim in the water, and live in groups seem to have their own democratic systems. Human beings, without a doubt, are also animals that live in groups. Is there anything we can learn from the various kinds of democracy of animals?