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what causes enlarged small-groups to break up?

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what causes enlarged small-groups to break up?

Postby charles brough » Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:17 pm

We humans lived millions of years as hunting-gathering groups of roughly thirty-five or so people-size. Spiker monkeys live in about twenty-five individual size groups. Other groups of social animals are genrally larger or smaller, but their group size is also unique to each of their species.

This is an important issue because we too evolved as small group primates. So it should have some bearing on what is happening to us in modern times. If not, why not? In what way might we have been seemingly sidestepping our genetic engineering?

In all such small group social animals, the groups break up when they exceed the optimal number for that particular species. The group size has little or nothing to do with the size of the territory or food supply. Rather than expanding in size to fill both the territory and food supply, the groups themselves multiply in number.
There has to be some evolved mechanism in us and other small group animals, one that causes this breakup phenomena. What is the mechanism? Is it genetic? How does it work? Is it working on us now?
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Postby Tomn » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:03 pm

I have researched,on my own, evolution for quite some time. I have not heard of a mechanism like this. although, i do know what you are asking. i have not heard of small groups breaking up because the optimum number has been breached. If you have a real world example, please elaborate. also, it is much more common, and it has been observed, that groups of animals will kick-out members when their group gets to large. Take the observed family of prairie dogs which became a hit TV show on animal planet. When outsiders tried to add to the group, they were chased off. Also, when a new litter was formed, they did not kill or desert 3 just because their number grew to 33 (30 is the hypothetical perfect number). Also, with wolves, they do not kill or desert pups unless the winter is harsh or the spring is not plentiful enough. Other than that, wolves do not diminish the numbers of their packs, but rather increase them as much as possible.

Also, in reference to humans previously traveling in small groups: we found it more advantageous to gather in large numbers for survival. Cities have proven more profitable for the human race. Also, gathering in certain a population size is not a adaptation, but a learned behavior. Adaptations all have to do with genetics, and this is simply group hierarchy and naturally ingrained instincts.

If you do know some real world, observed examples of your breakup phenomena, please elaborate or post a link in the reply.
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Re: what causes enlarged small-groups to break up?

Postby charles brough » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:53 pm

Have you ever heard of a pack of wolves, meercats, spider monkeys, chimps, gorillas, howler monkeys, lions, elephants, etc. living in five hundred to thousand individual size groups or shall we say herds? All of them and a mass of other such small group animals live in groups in numbers per group that stays within a certain range. In most, there is an alpha male whom the group revolves around. There will be sub-alphas who support him but one of which will ultimately replace him. When the group gets behond its usual size, it begins to become difficult to keep together. There is more dissention. If the alpha is weak, females will leave with their offspring or another male becomes dominant. With some groups, its the head female that is dominant. A too large group encourages the sub-dominant male to split off with some of the females. Nothing can make the females, gays and children more uneasy and insecure than if the group is large enough that the dominant male has more females than he can control and hence the sub-dominant males increasingly and openly challenge him for them.

Animal behavioralists use a very different vocabualry than we do for human behavior. It is necessary to translate it. With us, we compensate and read adjust things by our ideology so we are bonded into a system in which males compete for status or dominance in their field. Their reward is not more women but one woman of higher status. And when our ideology divides or becomes divided, we tend to move back towards the primal, primate small group pattern of living innate to us. It is a stressful transition.
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Postby Tomn » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:04 pm

There is a simple rule: if something is a general rule, it would be observed. Divided ideologies have not lead to splits in civilization, nor any splits in small or medium size human populations. This has not been observed in humans.

However, I do understand that his has occurred in animal populations. Stresses in population in animal populations do exist.

Beyond the fact that this is existent, I would beg to differ that this is a evolutionary adaptation. Evolution is the development of genetics over time. Group hierarchy is not ingrained in the DNA or any genetic information. It is a matter of instincts and behavior.
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Re:

Postby charles brough » Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:57 pm

Tomn wrote:There is a simple rule: if something is a general rule, it would be observed. Divided ideologies have not lead to splits in civilization, nor any splits in small or medium size human populations. This has not been observed in humans.

I have observed it in researching five separate civilizations over decades. Why others haven't also observed it is another subject. Certainly, historians have observed it in the civilization they happen to be writing about at the time.

The civilization that began in Sumer and spread up Mesopotamia and ended in Babylon became a veritable pool of ideologies imposed by their many assorted conquerors. The Roman world was divided into a vast number of polytheistic cults. Even the secular ideology that grew to substitute and bring some unity became split into such philosophical cults as epicureanism, skepticism, sophism, cynicism, etc. That in much the same way our modern day secular system has split into cults of animal liberatinists, vegetarianists, Earth liberationists, Ann Rand individualists, Von Mises Libertarians, Socialists, hate groups, and many others. What was a common way of thinking has divided into a world inwhich our government can no longer function well and where Europe set up a defective monetary system because they could not create a united one. As our civilization spread because of the once unity of our version of Western secularism, it has needed to unite a deeply divided world, one divided into Marxist, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu faiths as well as our grossly divided Christian faith.
However, I do understand that his has occurred in animal populations. Stresses in population in animal populations do exist.

Beyond the fact that this is resistent, I would beg to differ that this is a evolutionary adaptation. Evolution is the development of genetics over time. Group hierarchy is not ingrained in the DNA or any genetic information. It is a matter of instincts and behavior.

I have made no claim that there has been genetic change. Society, not our biology, is all what is evolving now.
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Postby Tomn » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:51 pm

I dont see how a dynamic society can be counted an evolving one or part of the theory of evolution. Are you saying that this is a part or proof of the theory of evolution?

However, I do see your point. Considering that you were able to provide observed examples that were totally clear, I would say that your view is entirely valid. I will look into this myself. This seems to be an interesting find of your. The splits of society by differing ideologies. A very good find. A valid, interesting observation.
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Re: what causes enlarged small-groups to break up?

Postby biohazard » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:45 am

charles brough wrote:We humans lived millions of years as hunting-gathering groups of roughly thirty-five or so people-size. Spiker monkeys live in about twenty-five individual size groups. Other groups of social animals are genrally larger or smaller, but their group size is also unique to each of their species.

This is an important issue because we too evolved as small group primates. So it should have some bearing on what is happening to us in modern times. If not, why not? In what way might we have been seemingly sidestepping our genetic engineering?

In all such small group social animals, the groups break up when they exceed the optimal number for that particular species. The group size has little or nothing to do with the size of the territory or food supply. Rather than expanding in size to fill both the territory and food supply, the groups themselves multiply in number.
There has to be some evolved mechanism in us and other small group animals, one that causes this breakup phenomena. What is the mechanism? Is it genetic? How does it work? Is it working on us now?


This is an interesting question. I read some study about this topic (unfortunately I cannot recall the name of the author, but I will post it here if I do later), where they found out that the size of some region in the brain that is responsible for identifying other individuals and maintaining social relationships, is directly proportional in many mammalian species and their group size. So, in other words, when there start to be so many individuals in a group that the individuals are having a hard time managing their relationships with others, the group size upper limit is reached.

Anyway, as far as I remember, this applied to truly "social" mammals, such as apes, monkeys, wolves and such - species in which all individuals really "know" each other and function as a unit, not just hang around in large groups. And like with all things in the nature, nothing is simple and there are surely many other aspects that also affect the final outcome. Quite clearly, wildebeest living in herds of thousands of animals cannot have that much bigger social cortices in their brains that, say, lions do.

I will see if I can find more detailed information about this theory because, admittedly, what I just said is not very enlightening as such (:
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