Looking for a lighter headline to share on your social media pages? A buzzed about new book by a pair of scientists argues that friendliness is the true key to evolutionary success — and points to flowers as one example in the natural world.
According to the Washington Post, “scientists Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, both researchers at Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, believe [something beyond ‘survival of the fittest’] has been at work among species that have thrived throughout history, successfully reproducing to sustain themselves, and it has nothing to do with beating up the competition.”
In their book, “Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity,” the pair point to “friendly partnerships among species and shared humanity have worked throughout centuries to ensure successful evolution.”
Animals such as dogs and bonobos are prime examples, they argue, but so are flowers and plants: “The plants provide food and energy, while the animals provide transportation for the pollen,” Hare told the Post.
And Hare said there are lessons in that kind of partnership that humans can learn from: “Friendliness is the winning strategy,” he said in the news story. “We are the friendliest human species that ever evolved, which has allowed us to outcompete other human species that are now extinct. When that mechanism is turned off, we can become unbelievably cruel. When it is turned on, it allows us to win. We win by cooperation and teamwork. Our uniquely human skills for cooperative communication can be used to solve the hardest social problems.”
Looking for more summer fodder for your social feeds? The Society of American Florists has a catalog of university research exploring the health benefits of flowers and plants. Find out more.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.