The Biological Analogy
Richard Dawkins provides several examples of how cunning parasites can be, and how easy it is to be fooled. The sophistication of some ant species makes the cuckoo look like a novice. He describes a parasitic ant which invades a neighbouring colony, seeks out its queen, climbs on top of it and methodically gnaws off its head. Having usurped the position at the top of this social hierarchy, the alien queen produces eggs which are tended by the invaded colonies’ workers, and new queens then go off to invade other colonies.
Even this strategy has been improved upon by another ant species. To quote The Selfish Gene, p. 252 (Dawkins is here referring to the founder of sociobiology, Edward Wilson):
|‘But sawing off heads is a bit of a chore. Parasites are not accustomed to exerting themselves if they can coerce a stand-in. My favourite character in Wilson’s The Insect Societies is Monomorium santschii. This species, over evolutionary time, has lost its worker caste altogether. The host workers do everything for their parasites, even the most terrible task of all. At the behest of the invading parasite queen, they actually perform the deed of murdering their own mother. The usurper doesn’t need to use her jaws. She uses mind-control. How she does it is a mystery; she probably employs a chemical, for ant nervous systems are generally highly attuned to them. If her weapon is indeed chemical, then it is as insidious a drug as any known to science. For think what it accomplishes. It floods the brain of the worker ant, grabs the reins of her muscles, woos her from deeply ingrained duties and turns her against her own mother. For ants, matricide is an act of special genetic madness and formidable indeed must be the drug that drives them to it. In the world of the extended phenotype, ask not how an animal’s behaviour benefits its genes; ask instead whose genes it is benefiting.’|
‘We shall drive the Christians into war by exploiting their national vanity and stupidity. They will then massacre each other, thus giving room for our own people.’ Rabbi Reichorn in Le Contemporain, July 1, 1880
The above was taken from this link.