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No. 81: May-Jun 1992

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Eusocial Beetles

The best-known eusocial animals are the ants, termites, and naked mole rats. As As biological observations accumulate, the phenomenon is being found elsewhere in the animal kingdom. The following quotation extends eusociality to the beetles and (in case you wondered) defines "eusociality":

"The weevil Austroplatypus incompertus lives in galleries in the heartwood of Eucalyptus trees. Colonies are initiated by solitary fertilized females and, when mature, manifest the three phenomena which characterize eusociality: overlapping generations, cooperative brood care and division into reproductive and sterile (unfertilized) castes. Each colony contains one fertilized and five or so unfertilized adult females, the job of the second group being to deal with predators and to extend and maintain the galleries."

(Anonymous; "Sociable Beetles," Nature, 356:111, 1992.)

Comment. Eusociality is somewhat of a puzzle in evolutionary theory because one must ask how the phenomenon arises, when it requires some individuals to forswear reproduction and thus give up the chance to pass their genes directly on to progeny. Explanations of such extreme altruism generally state that the nonbreeders are really helping to pass some (or even all) of their genes on by supporting the colony, for they are usually closely related to the breeding female.

From Science Frontiers #81, MAY-JUN 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987