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The term eusocial was introduced in 1966 by Entomologist Suzanne Batra and subsequently given the more definitive meaning of reproductive division of labour, overlapping generations and cooperative care of young by Myrmecologist E. O. Wilson.

The original definition can be narrowed by focusing on the nature and extent of the division of labour. A narrower definition specifies the requirement for irreversibly distinct behavioural groups or castes. Eusociality with biologically sterile individuals can be thought of as the most extreme form of kin selection and according to inclusive fitness theory eusociality may be easier for species like ants to evolve, due to their haplodiploidy, which facilitates the operation of kin selection. Sisters are more related to each other than to their offspring.

The analysis of eusociality played a key role in the development of theories in E.O. Wilson's sociobiology.

Tags: Evolution | Behaviour

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