Non-selected Traits

Williams, 1971

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Another possibility, which I believe deserves more attention than it has received, is that some altruistic traits arrive by accident or default. The alarm call of birds do work in the breeding season too, and they may have evovled for the protection of offspring. That they persist between breeding seasons may merely mean that no mechanism has evolved to turn them off when not needed. This would imply that the disadvantage to the caller is extremely small, which might be true for the robin's alarm note, although it is certainly not true of the sterility of a worker bee.

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