E.O. Wilson, a leading biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, has spent his life studying ants and their societal structures. His work has led him to propose a controversial theory on the evolution of eusociality – the highest level of organisation of sociality, where a single female or caste produces the offspring and non-reproductive individuals cooperate in caring for the young.

Wilson suggests that eusociality evolved not through kin selection, as previously thought, but through a process he calls ‘multi-level selection’, in which natural selection operates at both the individual and group levels. This theory, detailed in his book ‘The Social Conquest of Earth’, has been met with strong criticism from the scientific community.

Despite the controversy, Wilson remains undeterred, arguing that understanding eusociality could have profound implications for human society. He believes that human behaviour, like that of ants, is shaped by both individual and group selection, with group selection promoting altruistic and cooperative behaviour.

Wilson’s work extends beyond academia, with his efforts to promote biodiversity conservation earning him the nickname ‘Darwin’s natural heir’. His latest book, ‘The Meaning of Human Existence’, seeks to bridge the gap between science and the humanities, arguing for a greater understanding of our biological origins to better navigate the future.

Wilson’s theories, while contentious, continue to provoke thought and debate in the scientific community and beyond. His commitment to understanding the complexities of life, from ants to humans, remains unwavering.

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