Wednesday, April 05, 2006

One Roach, One Vote

The reviled household pests are masters of simple democracy, with a balanced skill for cooperation and competition.

Who knew?

Cockroaches govern themselves in a very simple democracy where each insect has equal standing and group consultations precede decisions that affect the entire group, indicates a new study.

Doesn't this sort of remind you of the town meeting form of government?

Halloy tested cockroach group behaviour by placing the insects in a dish that contained three shelters. The test was to see how the cockroaches would divide themselves into the shelters.

After much "consultation", through antenna probing, touching and more, the cockroaches divided themselves up perfectly.

For example, if 50 insects were placed in a dish with three shelters, each with a capacity for 40 bugs, 25 roaches huddled together in the first shelter, 25 gathered in the second shelter, and the third was left vacant.

When the researchers altered this set-up so that it had three shelters with a capacity for more than 50 insects, all the cockroaches moved into the first "house".

Supply your own parallels.

Hat tip to Jungle Merchant, a blogger who's always stumbling on interesting things from around the world.