Taking a Cue From Ants on Evolution of Humans

Nicholas Wade in The New York Times:

Ants_4 Ants are Dr. Wilson’s first and enduring love. But he has become one of the world’s best-known biologists through two other passions, his urge to create large syntheses of knowledge and his gift for writing. Through the power of his words, he champions the world’s biodiversity and regularly campaigns for conservation measures.

Though he celebrated his 79th birthday last month, Dr. Wilson is generating a storm of literary output that would be impressive for someone half his age. An updated edition of “The Superorganism,” his encyclopedic work on ants co-written with Bert Hölldobler, will be published in November. Dr. Wilson is at work on his first novel. He is preparing a treatise on the forces of social evolution, which seems likely to apply to people the lessons evident in ant colonies. And he is engaged in another fight.

Beneath his gentle manner and Southern charm, Dr. Wilson is a scrapper. He grew up in Alabama and Florida, where the local custom with respect to fistfights was that one could prevail or get knocked out, with no third option. “I never picked a fight,” he wrote in “Naturalist,” his autobiography. “But once started I never quit, even when losing, until the other boy gave up or an adult mercifully pulled us apart.”

More here. (Note: Being a diehard myrmecophile and a great admirer of Dr. Wilson, I can safely say that his Pulitzer Prize winning book on ants is one of the best things I have ever read since it radically changed my view of life in general and cancer in particular).