Meerkats seem to be one of the most generous creatures on Earth, humans included. They not only share their food, but babysit, too. Take this quiz to learn more about the helpful behavior of meerkats.
They have one of the most cooperative societies among the entire animal kingdom.
Meerkats live in the African desert.
Meerkats are at the bottom of the food chain.
They primarily eat insects and lizards that they find in the desert sands.
The mongoose lives alone, whereas the meerkat lives in a social, cooperative group.
They start at a very young age -- only a few weeks old. Even at this young age they begin to search for their own food.
Any adult meerkat will respond generously if approached for food, even if not by a blood relative.
It happens sometimes that subservient meerkats will leave their gang and form a new group. This is called a dispersal group.
They run straight for their bolt-holes, which they have built solely for this purpose.
Any subservient meerkat will take the job, and they all appear quite accepting of their role whenever their turn comes around.
Studies have shown that sentinel meerkats are in a very good position for escaping and are almost never killed in the attempt.
The dominant female generally produces 80 percent of the surviving litters.
She'll often go foraging for food.
Subservient females from the gang do all the pup-sitting, while the new mother goes food hunting.
According to meerkat studies, some members appear more helpful than others, making some of them seem what we'd call in human terms, lazier.
Some pup-sitters act as nursemaids, feeding milk from their own bodies to the pups of the dominant female.
She might be lactating because she recently gave birth herself -- only her babies were killed by the very mother she's pup-sitting for.
Despite the high element of risk for the altruistic sentinel, or extra labor contributed by the feeder and pup-sitter, the altruistic meerkat does not get much reward at all.
It seems that meerkats display altruism acceptingly, even at their own expense or risk, but scientists can't explain this phenomenon, which is unique in the animal kingdom.
Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that there could be no such thing as true altruism, because all acts of generosity earn some kind of a reward -- even just the satisfaction of having helped someone.