Cat-Rat Cooperation Disproves Darwin

Chuck's post last week about the guy who trained a rat to sit on top of a cat sitting on a dog, reminded me of the groundbreaking research of Dr. Loh Seng Tsai, conducted back in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

Dr. Tsai trained a cat and a rat to cooperate together in order to get food. From the LA Times, July 15, 1951:

The latest research was done with the aid of special apparatus composed of three sections separated by electrically controlled screen gates. First section is the entrance or release box, where a cat and a rat assemble for a test. The second section is the reaction chamber where cooperation takes place.

To get into the third section, where a dish of food awaits, the cat and mouse must each step on a floor button simultaneously. When this is done by perfect cooperation the gate drops and both animals thus gain admittance to the food chamber.

Dr. Tsai reported that, "Soon all the pairs of cats and rats began to work together. Finally their cooperation was so perfect that they took only three seconds to reach their food from the entrance."

Dr. Tsai figured that these results disproved Darwin's concept of the Survival of the Fittest. He told the LA Times reporter: "In the face of the fact that even alley cats and rats live together, eat together, sleep together, play together and work together, Darwin's theory seems at most only a half-truth."

What's really amazing is that this guy was a professor of biology at first the University of Chicago, then Tulane, then UCLA, and yet he didn't seem to have a clear understanding of what Darwin meant by the Survival of the Fittest. Nor, as far as I can tell, did anyone ever call him out as a crackpot. In fact, there was talk of nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
     Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 23, 2008
     Category: Animals | Science | Experiments

Survival of the Fittest is not understood by most and is misleadingly used by anti-evolutionists to mean that the strongest survives. Sort of like when they refer to evolution as just a theory and they will not believe a theory. Most people are surprised to find out that a theory must have overwhelming evidence for it in order to be considered a theory.

Nowadays the term Natural Selection is prefered by scientists, to try to eliminate the confusion of Survival of the Fittest.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 12/23/08 at 07:24 AM
What Darwin really meant by Fittest is more about adaptation... species that can adapt or fit into their environment most easily and effectively, will survive the longest because they are able to adapt to ever changing conditions. It has nothing to do with being physically fit or strong...

So in this mouse/cat instance, both parties work together to get food because they have to. They've adapted to their environment to survive. The cat could have just eaten the mouse if it got hungry enough, but it didn't, and that shows that nature is always willing to adapt.
Posted by Becky on 12/23/08 at 11:03 AM
So, if we trapped a Republican politician and a Democrat politician in a room, would they then be forced to co-operate?
Posted by kingmonkey in Athens, Ontario on 12/23/08 at 11:05 AM
Guy - Evolution is proven, despite what the ID folks say. In fact, scientists do not argue over whether or not evolution happens but they do argue over the mechanisms of evolution, the 'how it works' part of evolution. In science, a theory is something that is supported by overwhelming evidence. Sort of like the theory of gravity or the wave theory of light or the theory of relativity. All are theories because all can be proven with our current collective knowledge. This is not to say that any theory that science currently upholds cannot be disproven. Once enough evidence is collected to disprove a theory science will embrace the new theory.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 12/23/08 at 01:13 PM
Big Gary, I am Canadian. I can't really comment on our own politicians co-operating since 3 out of 4 parties are doing just that right now. One party (Progressive Conservatives(PC) kind of like Republicans, but less well-armed) was elected into power with Stephen Harper as PM. Now the 3 other major parties (Liberals, who are our "Democrats", NDP (New Democratic Party, who are even more Democratic than the Liberals) and the Bloc Quebecois) have formed a coalition to try and oust him from the position. So, here we have a rat, a cat, and a poodle working together to oust a small pig of some kind.
I've gotten lost in the attempt to analogize with the experiment above.
Posted by kingmonkey in Athens, Ontario on 12/23/08 at 03:51 PM
Well put, Patty. Abundance is key here for teamwork... and even humans have evidence of the past that shows that, in extreme survival situations, we will eat anything to continue to live, no matter how taboo it is.
Posted by Becky on 12/24/08 at 12:11 PM
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