What the meer mobs do
September 8th, 2010

Living together in groups of 2 to 50, which are referred to as either “gangs” or “mobs,” meerkats’ survival is dependent upon their successful cooperation.

The caption from the Houston Zoo for the above picture reads: Living together in groups of 2 to 50, which are referred to as either “gangs” or “mobs,” meerkats’ survival is dependent upon their successful cooperation.

There are apparently deep instincts underlying the formation and actions of mobs. Here are some observations that resonate with behavior of human smart mobs, from Houston on how meercats mob:

But when you are the size of a football, dancing around the hot African savannah while hawks and foxes drool at your every move, focusing all attention on food can be risky business. So what does a mobber do? Well, he mobs, of course!

When confronted by a predator, the self-ordained sentinel, or “watch-kat,” of the group alerts the other members of the mob by barking in an alarmed manner. In the event of a potential attack from above, meerkats dive into their burrows for safety and cover any young, vulnerable pups. For some ground predators, however, such as venomous snakes, meerkats literally “gang-up” on the serpent and form a circle around it, snarling and hissing while trying to look big and menacing.

And while most animals, including humans, have been found to have an innate sense of self preservation above the preservation of others (with the exception of one’s own young, or course), meerkats cooperate and sacrifice for one another with little concern for personal reward.


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