Last month, delegates at the UN Convention on Migratory Species passed an unprecedented resolution acknowledging that some social animals have culture, and that conservation scientists need to be sensitive to this if their efforts are to be effective.
Though there are many social animals who live in groups, or protect their growing children, we still aren't sure how social behavior really began. Now we may have a clue — and it comes from observing the way a humble earwig shares food with its brothers and sisters.
Plenty of social animals have ways to police each other's behavior — so that if an animal enters the wrong territory or reproduces when it's not supposed to, it's punished. But researchers have found that banded mongooses have a more repressive system, which forces all females to give birth at the same time. Or else.