All Does in Favor, Stand Up

| January 17, 2003 Issue

A new study conducted by Tim Roper from the University of Sussex, England, found that while deer and other animals have a dominant male that controls mating and defends against rivals, the group performs the more usual tasks of deciding how long to graze and when and where to move. This democratic system is preferred because the dominant male’s decisions tend to be too extreme. The experiment is useful, writes James Randerson in New Scientist, because it shows that the animal world is not ruled merely by violence and domination. The study is not meant to be a big plug for the left, however. Roper says that collective decisions do not require polling cards or even a sophisticated brain.

-Nick Garafola 

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