Spite Among Siblings

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Science  03 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5689, pp. 1413-1414
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103635

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Hamilton's theory of kin selection proposes that altruism is worth the cost to an individual if those that benefit are close relatives. However, as Gardner and West point out in their Perspective, there is a darker interpretation of this theory, which predicts that spiteful behavior can also arise if the social conspirators are not sufficiently closely related. Recent work published elsewhere provides a stunning example of spiteful behavior among developing siblings of a polyembryonic parasitic wasp.