It has finally been proven that animal species gain their social sense from their maternal side.
A new study that got published in the journal Nature Communications shows that social networks arise thanks to motherly nurturing in animals. The newly born species first of all forms connections with its mother. Then later on it forms connections with other members of the same species.
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These latter links depend upon its earlier interactions with its mother. This goes without saying and should be obvious since the first person one comes in contact with is one’s mother. She sets the ball rolling for all the subsequent choices and events in one’s life.
Animals are more in tune with those other members which are linked with their mothers. A recapitulation process is at work here. Four different animal populations were studied in the course of the research: spotted hyenas, sleep lizards, rock hyrax and bottlenose dolphins.
The simple animal models could show us a thing or two about how networks operate in reality. The web of relationships they spawn can be noted down and the level of connectivity may also be observed.
The clustering coefficient could also be seen in these populations. This measures the level of cliquishness in the group. Social groups in animals have always been under the gaze of biologists.
However, the complexities of these social cliques have only emerged in the past decade or so. A cornucopia of data has come to light regarding this phenomenon.
A social network is ultimately not just about spending quality time together. It has very real effects on length of life, disease manifestation and even reproductive health. Yet how exactly social networks came into being remained the Gordian Knot that hadn’t been cut by the scientists for a long time. Well, not anymore.
It was ultimately found that an animal’s attachment to its mother and later on others who were (or were not) linked with its mother remained the gist of the matter.
At least this is how things operated in the wild. Clusters and cliques formed in this way. Thus it is not just common characteristics that count in the end.
Rather what counts is the fact that if someone is connected with someone else who is in turn connected with me, I will get to know them both as mutual acquaintances.
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By imitating the mother and her social network, an individual acquires the very basics of a social sense. This is especially so for mammals who are dependent on their mothers for long periods of time.