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7 examples of animal democracy

By: Russell McLendon on Nov. 4, 2012, 5:28 p.m.
Zebra finches

Photo: Jim Bendon/Flickr

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Democracy takes flight

Queen bees and alpha chimps aren't voted into office, but that doesn't mean they're despots. Scientists have begun to view many animal species as de facto democracies, where majority rule ensures survival more than tyranny can. Our own species' democratic tendencies date back at least to our prehuman ancestors.

"[S]hared decision-making is likely to be of great importance for the evolution of stable social organizations, explaining why it appears to be common in social animals," biologists Larissa Conradt and Timothy Roper wrote in a 2007 study, "Democracy in animals." Most species don't belabor politics like humans do, but our democratic roots can be seen across the animal kingdom — which, in many cases, is more like an animal republic. (Text: Russell McLendon)