The Ultimate Meerkat Generosity Quiz

By: Staff
Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

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.

Which of these terms best describes the meerkat's unique society?

They have one of the most cooperative societies among the entire animal kingdom.

Where do meerkats live?

Meerkats live in the African desert.

In terms of placement on the food chain, where would you put meerkats?

Meerkats are at the bottom of the food chain.

Meerkats primarily eat insects and:

They primarily eat insects and lizards that they find in the desert sands.

Scientists trace the ancestry of meerkats to the mongoose. What seems odd about this connection?

The mongoose lives alone, whereas the meerkat lives in a social, cooperative group.

At what age do meerkats start to take care of themselves?

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.

If a young meerkat begs for food from an adult that is not its parent, what happens?

Any adult meerkat will respond generously if approached for food, even if not by a blood relative.

What is the name of a group of meerkats that breaks away from an existing gang to form a new one?

It happens sometimes that subservient meerkats will leave their gang and form a new group. This is called a dispersal group.

Where do meerkats run to when the sentinel alerts them to danger?

They run straight for their bolt-holes, which they have built solely for this purpose.

Which meerkat is charged with the job of sentinel?

Any subservient meerkat will take the job, and they all appear quite accepting of their role whenever their turn comes around.

When a sentinel meerkat sounds the alarm, is it more or less likely to escape from the danger?

Studies have shown that sentinel meerkats are in a very good position for escaping and are almost never killed in the attempt.

In a meerkat gang, who produces 80 percent of the litters that survive?

The dominant female generally produces 80 percent of the surviving litters.

Shortly after giving birth, what will a mother meerkat often do?

She'll often go foraging for food.

Who pup-sits for the new mother?

Subservient females from the gang do all the pup-sitting, while the new mother goes food hunting.

Are all meerkats equally as helpful?

According to meerkat studies, some members appear more helpful than others, making some of them seem what we'd call in human terms, lazier.

Pup-sitting meerkats sometimes act as:

Some pup-sitters act as nursemaids, feeding milk from their own bodies to the pups of the dominant female.

Sometimes a pup-sitter is already lactating, but has no babies. How is this possible?

She might be lactating because she recently gave birth herself -- only her babies were killed by the very mother she's pup-sitting for.

For those who are altruistic in meerkat society, is there usually any reward?

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.

Scientists view meerkat altruism as automatic, yet inexplicable. Why?

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.

Philosophically speaking, meerkats might be considered purely altruistic, because they give even at risk to themselves with no apparent gain. Which philosopher suggested that such a phenomenon cannot exist?

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.

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