Meerkat "sentinels," so–called because they watch for predators while other meerkat group members forage, almost neve...

Ava on March 19, 2020

Answer choice A

Can someone explain why answer choice A is incorrect? I interpreted it as the authors is claiming that the meerkats arent selfish when their bark seems to disproportionately save their own kind (senteniels) over others. Can someone point me to where me thinking has gone astray? Thanks in advance.

1 Reply

on March 19, 2020

Hey @shafieiava,

"The loud bark emitted by the sentinel as it dashes for the cover of the nearest hole alerts other group members to the presence of danger."

The author presents this as an example of the meerkat sentinels' altruism. It is not that they are only warning other sentinels. Presumably, they bark to alert the whole group (including foragers) of a predator in the area. This statement does not undermine the author's argument. The advantage that the sentinels have comes with the job: they see the predator first, so they have more time to escape. This doesn't mean they are trying to save only other sentinels. This is flawed reasoning, but it doesn't undermine the conclusion. It simply isn't strong enough to draw the conclusion.

The problem is, we don't know that altruism is the reason why the sentinels bark. The conclusion makes a claim about how this behavior is motivated. Even if barking does help the whole meerkat pack, we don't know if this is the sentinel's intention. What if barking makes them run faster? What if barking is just a fear reaction, and not intended to help their friends?