Slaves in the animal kingdom

Life at the expense of others

Jewel wasp with cockroach Tanzil Tafheem
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It was normal in ancient Rome and long time in many other regions of the world: slavery is one of the darkest chapters in our history. But it is not only man who is able to subjugate others but to look at his property and to be made to work for himself. Even in nature, the slavery is more widespread than you think.

For both among unicellulars, as well as among insects and even mammals, there are species that in the course of evolution have perfected the (over) life at the expense of their contemporaries.

But what tricks do animals use to recruit slaves? What exactly happens between the "servants" and their "masters"? Do potential victims have a chance to resist oppression? Is there even an evolutionary arms race between slaveholders and slaves, in which the benefits shift again and again? Answers to these and many other questions can be found on the following pages.

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Dieter Lohmann
As of: 15.04.2011