Meerkats seem to be one of the most generous creatures on Earth, humans included. They not only share their food, but babysit, too. Take this quiz to learn more about the helpful behavior of meerkats.
Which of these terms best describes the meerkat's unique society?
Where do meerkats live?
in the African desert
in the Brazilian rainforests
in the Asian tropics
In terms of placement on the food chain, where would you put meerkats?
at the top
at the bottom
in the middle
Meerkats primarily eat insects and:
Scientists trace the ancestry of meerkats to the mongoose. What seems odd about this connection?
The mongoose eats only leaves and grasses whereas the meerkat eats insects and lizards.
The mongoose stands on all four legs whereas the meerkat stands upright on two.
The mongoose lives alone whereas the meerkat is a very social animal.
At what age do meerkats start to take care of themselves?
at a few weeks old
at a few months old
at one year old
If a young meerkat begs for food from an adult that is not its parent, what happens?
the adult meerkat will attack it
the adult meerkat will feed it
the adult meerkat will ignore it
What is the name of a group of meerkats that breaks away from an existing gang to form a new one?
an offshoot group
a breakaway group
a dispersal group
Where do meerkats run to when the sentinel alerts them to danger?
to bolt-holes that they have built for this purpose
to dry river-beds
to grasses and shrubs in the sand
Which meerkat is charged with the job of sentinel?
the dominant male
the dominant female
any subservient one
When a sentinel meerkat sounds the alarm, is it more or less likely to escape from the danger?
Studies show that he will succeed in escaping only 50 percent of the time.
Studies show that he will almost always be killed for the sake of the group.
Studies show that he will almost always succeed in escaping.
In a meerkat gang, who produces 80 percent of the litters that survive?
all the females in the gang
one dominant female
the alpha female (about 70 percent) and the beta female (about 10 percent)
Shortly after giving birth, what will a mother meerkat often do?
go foraging for food
leave the gang
settle in for a months-long rest
Who pup-sits for the new mother?
the dominant father
subservient males and females
Are all meerkats equally as helpful?
No, only the females.
No, some are "lazier" than others.
Yes, they all pitch in equally.
Pup-sitting meerkats sometimes act as:
Sometimes a pup-sitter is already lactating, but has no babies. How is this possible?
It's not possible. She only lactates spontaneously upon being charged with the role of pup-sitter.
Hers might have been killed by the very mother she is pup-sitting for.
Her lactation system develops concurrently with the mother's throughout the latter's pregnancy.
For those who are altruistic in meerkat society, is there usually any reward?
Scientists view meerkat altruism as automatic, yet inexplicable. Why?
because meerkats display altruism acceptingly even at their own expense or risk and scientists can't explain this phenomenon
because meerkats display altruism only under certain unpredictable circumstances
because meerkats display altruism only up to a point
Philosophically speaking, meerkats might be considered purely altruistic, because they give even at risk to themselves with no apparent gain. Which philosopher suggested that such a phenomenon cannot exist?