Numbers and experience count in mongoose warfare

Numbers and experience count in mongoose warfare

Strength in numbers and experienced individuals are both vital in mongoose warfare, new research shows.

Banded mongooses are one of a handful of mammals that engage in lethal intergroup battles, giving insight into the evolution of warfare.

The new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences—by the University of Exeter and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)—examined what factors usually give one side the advantage.

The number of adult males in a group and the age of the oldest male emerged as the key properties.

But the benefit of having an older male declines if he’s too old (about 11 years onwards), when males become a “liability rather than an asset,” and can be evicted from the group.

Lead Image: Groups of mongooses fighting. Credit: Dave Seager.

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