Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/337

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COMMUNAL SOCIETIES.

COMMUNAL SOCIETIES.
By CHARLES MORRIS.

IN the paper on "Neuter Insects," recently published in "The Popular Science Monthly,"[1] the argument on certain phases of animal evolution there presented was not offered as a complete one. For a full exposition of the development of ant and bee intelligence, this subject needs to be considered from another point of view, and the present paper is intended as, in a partial sense, a sequel to the one above named.

It is usual to divide animals, in respect to their habits of association, into two classes, the solitary and the social. The solitary animals comprise all those which form sexual combinations only, and the class embraces all those species of the smaller mammals and birds which flock together solely from the fact that they are very numerous, and seek food in the same localities, not from any association for mutual aid.

The social animals form true communities. They are banded together by certain common interests, and possess a principle of association beyond that of the sexual. They present the germinal condition of a political society. These comprise most of the large herbivora, which aggregate for purposes of common defense, in some cases stationing sentries for protection while feeding, and in others following certain acknowledged leaders. Instances of any such association are rare among carnivora, the wolves being the most marked example.

Yet in the social animals, as a rule, the common interests are few, and the links of association weak. Individuality largely persists, there is no idea of common property, and nearly or quite the only interest in common is that of attack or defense. Separated from these by a broad interval are some three or four animal tribes whose socialism is of so advanced a type that it fairly deserves to be indicated by a special name. These tribes comprise the ants, bees, and termites, among insects, and the beavers among mammals. Their conditions of association are so different from those prevailing in most other cases, that it seems proper to consider them as a separate class. I propose for them the title of communal animals, as most distinctive of their life-habits.

Instead of possessing a few links of combination, these animals have most or all of the relations of life in common. In ant and bee communities, for instance, individualism has vanished. All property is held in common, all labor is performed for the community, there are a common home, common stores, common duties, community alike in assault and defense, and it is difficult or impossible to detect any ant

  1. December, 1885.