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Cockroaches Make Group Decisions?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the they-check-in-but-they-don't-check-out dept.

212

The Discovery Channel is reporting a recent study indicates that cockroaches govern themselves using simple group consultations before anything that affects the entire group. From the article: " The research determined that cockroach decision-making follows a predictable pattern that could explain group dynamics of other insects and animals, such as ants, spiders, fish and even cows. Cockroaches, Blattella Germanica, are silent creatures, save perhaps for the sound of them scurrying over a counter top. They therefore must communicate without vocalizing.

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212 comments

Kafkaesque (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060370)

Not only can they communicate, but they also have a staunch work ethic [wikipedia.org] . They've been known to make every attempt to get to work on time regardless of whatever transformations may happen to them over night.

Poor Gregor, no matter how hard he released pheromones, his parents just wouldn't listen ... er ... smell to him.

Re:Kafkaesque (3, Funny)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060484)

Cockroaches are able to make group decisions without a leader. With a staunch work ethic, they would be a perfect candidate for communism. The huge population of Ants have been communist for quite some time. We can't let this spread into a domino effect! We must destory all cockroaches before communism spreads to all the other insects!

Re:Kafkaesque (2, Insightful)

grogdamighty (884570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060969)

Aren't ants monarchists? They have a queen...

Re:Kafkaesque (1)

Flunitrazepam (664690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060828)

Kafk0wnage!

As Einstein once said... (0, Offtopic)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060371)

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Re:As Einstein once said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060552)

What exactly does this quote have to do with the article?

The price of tea in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060680)

What is th price of Tea in China right now?

nothing to hear here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060389)

Similar to group dynamics at a mime conference.

Re:nothing to hear here, move along (-1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060466)

And similiar to the Republican-dominated Congress.

Re:nothing to hear here, move along (5, Funny)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060496)

And similiar to the Republican-dominated Congress.

You realize the article was about how cockroaches get together, communicate effectively, and do what is good for the entire group, right? That means you either completely mistrolled for the slashdot groupthink, or you are the bravest Republican in the history of slashdot. Either way, I fear a karma-punishment in your future.

Re:nothing to hear here, move along (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060738)

That means you either completely mistrolled for the slashdot groupthink, or you are the bravest Republican in the history of slashdot.

Hrm? Republicans are the majority in congress? All that irresponsible budget spending and big government had me fooled for a bit.

Re:nothing to hear here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060919)

Don't be fooled. Irresponsible budget spending and big government have been what Republicans have been all about (rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding) for the last 30 years.

Re:nothing to hear here, move along (3, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060509)

Correct. And don't forget that the metaphor for a Democrat-controlled Congress is pigs at a trough. They do vocalize.

Re:nothing to hear here, move along (1)

javamann (410973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15061001)

And let's not forget about the budget surplus under Clinton.

Already and example of this (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060392)

This has already been demonstrated on The Daily KOS. Move along.

Re:Already and example of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060666)

Hm, that's an interesting site they have a lot of interesting information I've never seen before. I"m sure you meant to flame that site but you turned me on to it.

This explains... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060397)

...politicians, pollsters, and focus groups. Seems many species of roaches act this way.

That explains it! (4, Funny)

nemik (909434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060403)

That explains all those committees and cabinets then that politicians constantly set up. Only cockroaches are obviously much more effective in their efforts.

Re:That explains it! (1)

Jaqui (905797) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060445)

~lol~
Too True!!

brainspawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060417)

Feeling/"reading" electric currents?

X-Files (4, Interesting)

Dante Shamest (813622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060418)

Cockroaches are interesting enough to have been the focus of one X-Files episode, War of the Coprophages [wikipedia.org]

In the X-Files episode "War of The Coprophages" cockroaches are seen to group together to murder people. The character Dr. Berenbaum (based on the University of Illinois entomologist) suggests that it is actually swarms of flying cockroaches that are responsible for most UFO sightings (they generate an electro-static field which can be illuminated dependent on atmospheric conditions). In one of the scenes, a cockroach that escaped can be seen crawling over the camera, making it appear that the viewer's television has become infested. Though the shot was not planned, the producers decided to leave it in the episode.

Re:X-Files (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060582)

In one of the scenes, a cockroach that escaped can be seen crawling over the camera, making it appear that the viewer's television has become infested. Though the shot was not planned, the producers decided to leave it in the episode.

Ahh man, I loved that episode. But I'm pretty sure the cockroach crawling over the camera wasn't an accident. First of all, it wasn't crawling over the camera. If I remember correctly, the back of the cockroach was facing towards the viewer. They made it look like a cockroach was actually on your TV screen. It actually fooled my mom! My guess is that it was a prank similar to what we saw Jim Carrey do in "The man on the moon" (I forget the comedians name who did it in real life, as I was too young) in which he made the broadcast fuzzy on purpose so people would try adjust their TV's it even though there was nothing wrong.

Re:X-Files (1)

Zzesers92 (819281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060652)

(I forget the comedians name who did it in real life, as I was too young)

His name was Andy Kaufman [imdb.com] [IMDB], probably best known for his roles on SNL and Taxi.

Nature's middle-management. (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060419)

Cockroaches have regular staff meetings in order to create synergy, redefine their core competencies, implement new strategems, and satisfy shareholders.

Termites can do it too, but they hold theirs inside a plank of wood, hence the term "board meeting."

Re:Nature's middle-management. (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060607)

You owe me a new keyboard.

Re:Nature's middle-management. (1)

Programmer_In_Traini (566499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060636)

good one :) ... board meeting... lol... im still laughing, man must i be tired!

Re:Nature's middle-management. (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060705)

Notice: No paradigms were shifted during the composition of the preceding post.

Re:Nature's middle-management. (1, Funny)

antiMStroll (664213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060707)

"Cockroaches have regular staff meetings in order to create synergy, redefine their core competencies, implement new strategems, and satisfy shareholders."

In my experience those aren't sure signifiers of intelligence at work.

Re:Nature's middle-management. (1)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060807)

Which is why I tagged this article "microsoft".

Re:Nature's middle-management. (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060975)

Lol. Termites evolved from roaches by the way.

Roach Intelligence (5, Interesting)

linguizic (806996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060420)

This is new to our understanding of roaches, but the article doesn't realy go in to what's amazing about this. Ants are pretty well understood, an ant colony is an aggregated indirect fitness machine. Since all the female offspring of the queen are related to eachother by 3/4 (why? because they're way cool!!), and the worker caste is sterile, they promote the fitness of their sisters who will become queens themselves and leave the colony, reproduce, and therefore replicate their sister's genes. This genetic system is called haplodiploidy [wikipedia.org] . Roaches on the other hand, are diploids like you and I. The genetic incentive for the cooperation that we see in ants is just not there in roaches. Instead, what the roaches are doing is more similar to reciprocal altruism.

from the article: After much "consultation," through antenna probing, touching and more, the cockroaches divided themselves up perfectly within the shelters. For example, if 50 insects were placed in a dish with three shelters, each with a capacity for 40 bugs, 25 roaches huddled together in the first shelter, 25 gathered in the second shelter, and the third was left vacant.

A completely selfish roach would say "screw you, I'm not going to that other house, I want to stay where everybody else is!". But because other roaches are willing to go to the second house so is any extraordinarily selfish roach. So this is an evolutionarily stable strategy. This challenges how smart we think roaches are. They are truly making decisions. It's not that some of the roaches are genetically predisposed to being the roach who decides not to stay with everyone else while other's lack that genetic predisposition. If this were the case the numbers of each group when they divide would never be even.

Re:Roach Intelligence (4, Interesting)

gnovos (447128) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060760)

Wouldn't this just be a simple case of emergent behavior? Like, the roach has a simple rule that they follow over and over again, and when the house gets too big that rule proells them to the next house. Like somethign along the lines of:

1) Stay in shelter
2) Count other roaches nearby
3) If otherCount > X move to the next house.

I have heard ants follow this kind of "reasoning" and thus perform very complext tasks.

1) Gather Food
2) If gatherFoodSmell becomes too strong then hunt for food
3) If fellowHunters smell becomes too strong then make tunnel repairs

etc...

Re:Roach Intelligence (4, Insightful)

harrkev (623093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060825)

2) Count other roaches nearby
Therein lies the problem -- roaches can't "count" in any normal sense of the word. The fact that (according to TFA) roaches split themselves into two populations of 25 is amazing.

Of course the article was rather lacking in details. Was it always 25, or was it sometimes a 27/23 split?

Re:Roach Intelligence (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060841)

I have not read the actual paper, but from the article, I am not very sure whether this can be considered as group decisions.

Cant it be considered this way?
The cockroaches want to be together - being social insects. But they cant be together when there is not enough space. So when the space is getting less and less, they move to the next shelter.
Now individual roaches move out, and some of the roaches in the first shelter move out just cheking the other areas (exploration being one of the primary tenets of survival).
If they see that other shelter has enough roaches, but there is enough space, then they join that area.
Now since both the shelters have enough roaches and enough space too, roaches dont go to the third area.

*My problem with the group decision idea is in believing that roaches can count.

Now I would be the one with pie in the face, if the roaches had discussions (sic) and then went to each of the shelters, than going to the shelters first and then discussing (sic).

Of course they communicate... (0)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060422)

Who do you think is always trying to get us to push the buttons and release the nuclear weapons? Only cockroaches will survive, right? As I understand it, there are two disguised cockroaches currently on the board at Cyberdyne Systems of California. Not that I'm trying to start a conspiracy, but they ARE attracted to warm weather, and have you ever noticed how you never see cockroaches in the data center? That's because they are in the cabinets, in the PC's silently absorbing data as the ones and zeros whiz by. Oh yeah buddy, they communicate alrighty! Come to think of it, the guys who do back-ups sort of shuffle around the data center like cockroaches under the kitchen cabinets.... hmmmmm

Re:Of course they communicate... (4, Funny)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060606)

So you are saying our Nuclear program...is bugged?

Re:Of course they communicate... (1)

Hassman (320786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060744)

You're my hero.

Intelligence (4, Funny)

thewiz (24994) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060424)

It's interesting to see other animals, and now possibly insects, demonstrate intelligent behaviour and communicate with each other. Wether they use body language, chemical emmissions, or sign language with their antenna, I'd say it looks like we keep finding intelligent life on our own planet.

But, if I find one in my house I'm still going to squish it.

Re:Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060986)

But, if I find one in my house I'm still going to squish it.

Or you could capture it in a cup and put it outside.

Yes, yes, I know...caring about other forms of life makes you "weak" whereas effecient cruelty is a sign of strength.

I don't know why I posted this.

Smarter then many humans? (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060438)

cockroach decision-making follows a predictable pattern

So some of my past managers really were dumber than cockroaches? I knew it! Thank you /. for validating what I knew all along.

I knew it! (0, Flamebait)

Pranjal (624521) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060441)

I always wondered why Balmer and Gates made group decisions in most cases. Now I know why! :p

Cockroaches are intelligent now, eh? Well, (1, Funny)

TechnoGuyRob (926031) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060448)

I, for one, welcome our new silent Big Brother cockroach overlords.

So that's why he went down. (4, Funny)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060451)

Poor Scarface. He didn't realize those cockroaches he was going to bury were colluding together against him.

Words of wisdom, I guess.

That explains... (1)

Nicolay77 (258497) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060453)

Why I feel like a cockroach after a meeting. :P

I, for one ... (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060455)

... welcome our new organizational management overlords.

Uh. (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060461)

No Politics topic?

Is this still a matter of debate? (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060463)

They therefore must communicate without vocalizing.

Is this still a matter of debate?

When I was studying Entomology 15 years ago (egad!), the the leading theory for insect communication is that that they communicated primarily using scents and vibrations on the ground in the air. They can hear, but not necessarily vocalize.

This has been studied extensively in ants & termites -- As far as I know, this is still the leading theory.

It's hard to prove, because "smells" are hard to detect.

Re:Is this still a matter of debate? (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060674)

"smells" are hard to detect

Not that hard.

Re:Is this still a matter of debate? (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060940)

I guess I should say, hard to detect & measure with a machine-- for some sort of quantitative scientific analysis.

*ptttpppthhhhtpt*

Re:Is this still a matter of debate? (1)

Gibberlins (714322) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060957)

Bees are thought to communicate by using "dances". They fly around in certain patterns that other bees can recognize. In particular, their dances can tell other bees where to go look for food. How they perfrom the dance can give an indication of the direction and distance of the food. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_learning_and_comm unication [wikipedia.org] .

Group Intelligence... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060469)

Is that why I keep finding my Raid cans with the nozzle broken off? Damn bugs!

More pictures (4, Funny)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060473)

As the article is scarce on pics, here [google.com] some more pictures of the cockroaches meeting up before making decisions. :)

Atoms are democratic too (2, Insightful)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060490)

Researchers in Kentucky performed the following experiment: they placed a carboard divide with a small hole in it across the middle of a shoe box so as to split it into to halves of equal size. Amazingly it was found that the same amount of air ended up in both halves. "I reckon this proves that atoms have notions of fairness, democracy and property," said the leading researcher of the group, "they were able to divide themselves up equally between the partitions.". They found that similar results were obtained with a variety of different partitioning scheme - whatever scheme was chosen the atoms always divided themselves up fairly so that each atom had the same amount of space.

Even more significantly the researchers showed that this equilibrium was dynamic. If a bunch of atoms drifted from one partition to another then another bunch would go back the other way. It's not always the same atoms that stay in any particular partition. This demonstrates that the atoms are actually smart enough to be able to count how many atoms are leaving and entering a partition at any time.

"This could revolutionize thinking about atoms," claimed the researcher.

bogus experiment :-D (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060538)

if it wasn't, I would not be out of gas in my car after driving PAST a gas station, for if atoms truly want to be free, I'd have suddenly gained a half tank of fuel.

unless, of course, the atoms are taking orders from the cockroaches. we don't get along.

Re:Atoms are democratic too (5, Funny)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060542)

Anthropomorphizations do not like to be mocked.

Re:Atoms are democratic too (1)

linguizic (806996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060575)

You know here in Mississippi where I live, atoms work a different way. Our air doesn't divide itself equally, instead all the oxygen atoms move to the nicer box while forcing the more numerous nitrogen atoms to stuff themselves intto the broken down old box. But you know, every atom's happy with this arrangement, they don't know no better.

Re:Atoms are democratic too (1)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060609)

Exaclty. It is hardly news that social insects communicate with each other and that they do so by interacting with each other. And just because all participate in the decision doesn't mean that it is democratic. I suspect that the actual scientific paper behind TFA has more to say. That is, I suspect that there is a proposed algorithm that individual roaches follow that lead to the group behavior. But from TFA there is no news here.

What is often said about computers applies to cockroaches as well: Don't anthropomorphize them; they hate it when you do that.

Re:Atoms are democratic too (1)

oever (233119) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060835)

Researchers in Kentucky performed the following experiment: they dissolved soap and oil in water creating an emulsion. Amazingly it was found that the similar amounts of soap molecules ended up around groups of oil molecules. "I reckon this proves that soap molecules have notions of fairness, democracy and property," said the leading researcher of the group, "they were able to divide themselves up equally around the groups of oil molecules.". They found that similar results were obtained with a variety of ratios of soap to oil - whatever scheme was chosen the molecules always divided themselves up fairly so that each oil droplet had the similar amounts of soap.

Even more significantly the researchers showed that this equilibrium was dynamic. If two droplets merged, soap molecules would leave the new droplet to migrate to another droplet It's not always the same soap molecules that stay on any particular droplet. This demonstrates that soap is actually smart enough to be able to spread its cleansing ability equaly among the oil.

"This could revolutionize thinking about soaps," claimed the researcher.

Wow, that's cool, but... (3, Insightful)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060657)

What happens when you divide your shoebox into three sections? Do the molecules in the air divide themselves evenly between two of the sections, but leave the third empty? I think you missed a few details from the article. I don't think this is incredibly revolutionary, but it is still interesting. The roaches seem to attempt to maintain large but evenly sized groups. Instead of the bugs all distributing evenly among the shelters or squeezing as many as would fit into one shelter then all the rest into the second, they struck a balance between group size and eveness.

Re:Wow, that's cool, but... (1)

oever (233119) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060855)

see here for reply [slashdot.org]

Re:Wow, that's cool, but... (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060866)

What happens when you divide your shoebox into three sections? Do the molecules in the air divide themselves evenly between two of the sections, but leave the third empty? I think you missed a few details from the article.

Not to mention that for his shoebox example, the air would have to cluster into two small areas comprising probably less than 5% of the total surface area. I suspect that the poster simply jumped the gun without a clue of what the article was talking about, immediately dismissing it. They missed the fact that it's pretty amazing. Most amazing was how they separated into equal groups, but still preferred larger groups to smaller groups (e.g. with three houses, they still stayed in just two in equal sized groups).

Re:Wow, that's cool, but... (0)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060991)

I suspect that the poster simply jumped the gun without a clue of what the article was talking about
Try suspecting again.

Most amazing was how they separated into equal groups, but still preferred larger groups to smaller groups
You're easily amazed. This cockroach behavior is trivial by comparison. It's explained by the simplest of models: "Find a place to hide. Given a choice of places to hide, pick one with more cockroaches. if I don't fit in a place to hide, find somewhere else." The last rule is implicit in the first anyway so it's even simpler than I said. Ant, termite or bee behavior is a few orders of magnitude less trivial.

Stupid eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060514)

Cockroaches, Battlestar Galactica, are silent creatures

I could have told you that... (1)

butterwise (862336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060519)

Just look at Moussaoui's lawyers...

The Japanese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060531)

Sounds like the Japanese.

A lttle more information would be nice (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060546)

I would have liked to have seen how these groups split up. Mark half, those in the same community group, with some sort of colored agent for distinction purposes. Also attach numbers to their backs for singular ID.

Are certain roaches more active than others in the "communicating" phase? Do they exhibit "Leadership?" Do the roaches split themselves based on swarm? Is there a consistent distribution of the numbers inside the shelters?

Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060557)

recent study indicates that cockroaches govern themselves using simple group consultations

Of course, how else are MCSE and A+ cert morons supposed to figure out something simple like setting up a file server? You think any single one of them is capable on their own? heh

Cockroach Decisions (5, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060567)

Will cockroaches out-survive humans?

CR1: Is that the sound of a light-switch I hear?
CR2: Yes!
CR3: What should we do?
CR4: Run!
CR5: Do I have a second?

Maybe not!

Blattella Germanica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060570)

Did anyon else read Battlestar Galactica?

Obviously... (1)

neersign (956437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060576)

Cockroaches, Blattella Germanica, are silent creatures...They therefore must communicate without vocalizing.

that is a powerful deduction. I don't know if i would have ever drawn that conclusion, but I guess that's why I don't study insects.

Of Course not... (1)

alamandrax (692121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060579)

You can't hear it because they're texting!

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060581)

Now that scientists have discovered that they work as a team, exhibiting insect-scale qualities of cooperation, loyalty and team spirit, we can use this knowledge to build more effective roach traps!

Actually that was quite an amazing article. On a tangentially related subject, a mosquito researcher once explained to me how mozzies find blood: when they get a wiff of CO2, they simply angle themselves into the wind and go forward.

Bugs are pretty smart for things without brains.

---------
Contact management, phone backup, sales automation [contempo.biz]

Cockroaches Make Group Decisions? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060588)

Well, how else are politicians going to get their laws passed?

So, for people.... (1)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060602)

Instead of using EGroupware [egroupware.org] or PHPGroupware [phpgroupware.org] , we should just start using using silent communications like cockroaches...
 
"...So does that mean I'm #1, or ....HEY!"

A cleaned-up copy of the story (2, Funny)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060604)

Congresspeople Make Group Decisions

March 30, 2006 — Congresspeople govern themselves in a very simple democracy where each insect has equal standing and group consultations precede decisions that affect the entire group, indicates a new study.

The research determined that congressperson decision-making follows a predictable pattern that could explain group dynamics of other insects and animals, such as ants, spiders, fish and even cows.

"Congresspeople use chemical and tactile communication with each other," said José Halloy, who co-authored the research, which is outlined in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "They can also use vision."

Halloy, a scientist in the Department of Social Ecology at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, added, "When they encounter each other they recognize if they belong to the same colony thanks to their antennas that are 'nooses,' that is, sophisticated olfactory organs that are very sensitive."

Halloy tested congressperson group behavior by placing the insects in a dish that contained three shelters. The test was to see how the Congresspeople would divide themselves into the shelters.

After much "consultation," through antenna probing, touching and more, the Congresspeople divided themselves up perfectly within the shelters. For example, if 50 insects were placed in a dish with three shelters, each with a capacity for 40 bugs, 25 congresspeople huddled together in the first shelter, 25 gathered in the second shelter, and the third was left vacant.

When the researchers altered this setup so that it had three shelters with a capacity for more than 50 insects, all of the Congresspeople moved into the first "house."

Halloy and his colleagues found that a balance existed between cooperation and competition for resources.

He explained to Discovery News, "Congresspeople are gregarious insects (that) benefit from living in groups. It increases their reproductive opportunities, (promotes) sharing of resources like shelter or food, prevents desiccation by aggregating more in dry environments, etc. So what we show is that these behavioral models allow them to optimize group size."

The models are so predictable that they could explain other insect and animal group behaviors, such as how some fish and bugs divide themselves up so neatly into subgroups, and how certain herding animals make simple decisions that do not involve leadership.

David Sumpter, an Oxford University zoologist, told Discovery News that the new study "is an excellent paper."

Sumpter continued, "It is important because it looks both at the mechanisms underlying decision-making by animals and how those mechanisms produce a distribution of animals amongst resource sites that optimizes their individual fitness. Much previous research has concentrated on either mechanisms or optimality at the expense of the other."

For congresspeople, it seems, cooperation comes naturally.

In another study.... (2, Funny)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060614)

Researchers find that unlike roaches, human make a single group decision on who will make all the group decisions every 4 years.

Biological spelling flame... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060619)

It should be Blattella germanica, not Blattella Germanica (the linked article gets it right). The specific epithet (the "germanica" part) is not capitalized in a binomen [wikipedia.org] . Likewise, Homo Sapiens, Tyrannosaurus Rex, or the abbreviation T. Rex would be wrong. They should be Homo sapiens and Tyrannosaurus rex or T. rex. Well, unless you are talking about the band for the last one.

Re:Biological spelling flame... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060958)

Yeah Homo because you're a FAG!!!

Re:Biological spelling flame... (5, Funny)

mapmaker (140036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060961)

What are you talking about? Blattella Germanica totally deserves both capital letters!! It's the best science fiction show since Babylon 5, even if they did make Starbuck a girl!!

Why are you looking at me like that?

History will tell .... (3, Funny)

proudlyindian (781206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060628)

that the last girl who ever visited slashdot was on 4th April who read Roaches who make group decisions

Religious Cult (1)

smoon (16873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060658)

Now if we could just get them involved with a religious cult that would inspire them to all commit mass suicide... Roach kool-aid anyone?

huh (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060676)

correct me if i am wrong, but isnt a cokroach Periplaneta americana?

Re:huh (2, Informative)

jamrock (863246) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060895)

There are over 3,500 species of cockroach, of which Periplaneta americana, the American cockroach, and Blatella germanica, the German cockroach (the species to which TFA refers), are merely the most familiar to homeowners in North America. There are thousands of tropical species which inhabit rainforests, many of them much larger than the largest roaches you'll encounter in a dumpster. In fact the Madgascar Hissing Cockroach, which grows to about 3 inches in length, is a popular pet. And no, they aren't dirty, disease-ridden pests; they're quite fastidious about their grooming. Only roaches which inhabit garbage and sewers (American and German cockroaches typically) can be considered carriers of disease. Generally speaking, cockroaches are remarkably adaptive and hardy insects, and are of considerable interest to entomologists.

Already seen in real life (0, Troll)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060697)

They could just as well have studied the United Nations to find that out. /. doesn't scare me enough to post anonymously.

Absolutely! (1)

mbadolato (105588) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060755)

cockroaches govern themselves using simple group consultations before anything that affects the entire group

I've seen them make this decision, repeatedly! My wife walks around outside wearing sandals during the warm summer months, and you can clearly hear one the roaches (sight unseen) go "hey check out the blonde chick with her toes hanging out! Lets go make her scream bloody murder!!!" and then 2 or three come out of nowhere and run over towards her general direction and do exactly that.

No science needed; it's a routine observation :)

i have seen the inside workings .. (1)

deviceb (958415) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060771)

2 pieces of cerial hit the floor, one a cheerio, the other a peanut butter captin-crunch.. the teams deliberates.. even though the CC is further from the hole in the wall and may cause more loss, in the end its worth more than the cheerio.

2 out of 3 Roaches Prefer Luxury Accomodations (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060777)

After much "consultation," through antenna probing, touching and more, the cockroaches divided themselves up perfectly within the shelters. For example, if 50 insects were placed in a dish with three shelters, each with a capacity for 40 bugs, 25 roaches huddled together in the first shelter, 25 gathered in the second shelter, and the third was left vacant.

Now from this, we can deduce that the cockroaches, after armageddon, will choose to live in mansions and luxury apartments, and stay clear of public housing.

Welll..... (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060785)

there was this one roach, strutting across the counter alone, singing, "I've got to be meeeeeee - I've got to be ..." .

I knew it ! (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060801)

I knew thoose little bastards were smarter than they let on to be !

I watched roaches in my house, err lab, for 6 months with no funding & all I could determine was that they don't walk backwards but they can turn on a dime (literally).

I'd try to cook somthing on the stove, err, bunson burner, one would sit on the ceiling looking like it was watching me then when I would look over at the fly swatter, that one & its' buddies would dive-bomb my lunch, err, experiment before I could get to the swatter. Like little raptors.

Seems to be working on /. (1)

HotBBQ (714130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060802)

The mod system works, right?

The point is? (1)

ChanKane (966080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060817)

Group consultations? Decision making? (MBA major?) Fancy words used in context of a roach , but what is the point? Roaches have attenae's like every other bug (and silent like every other bug) and EVERYONE knows they communicate via radio waves.... duh....

Cockroaches Make Group Decisions? (0, Redundant)

fobbman (131816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060819)

Yes, especially when they join forces and become what is called a "law firm".

Political Hoodlums Make Group Decisions: +1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060952)


Yes, especially when they join forces and become what is called Al-Qaeda Operations [whitehouse.org] , how may I direct your call [huffingtonpost.com] ?

Cheers,
K. Trout

Computing? (2, Interesting)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060820)

Given an appropriately-complex apparatus, could one devise a device to utilize the computing power of cockroaches for opimization problems?

The potential of this cock-puter is mind-blowing...

Re:Computing? (1)

Winlin (42941) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060939)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of....on second thought, I've seen one: the last time I flipped on the kitchen light in my old apartment.

Evolution Complete! (1)

the_REAL_sam (670858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060838)


In the prophetic words of starcraft, Evolution Complete!

=\

Perhaps they've evolved protection vs sound (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060871)

After all these years of humans cranking out 90+ db sounds, and setting our volume to 11, maybe they decided not to worry so much about that bit, and concentrate on just replacing us.

Their cunning plot to remove the world's pirate fish and create global warming [venganza.org] is working really well, don't you think?

All in favor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15060883)

You're telling me, they voted me out of my own apartment.

Just great... (2, Funny)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060889)

I can just hear my boss now, "Why can't you guys agree upon a plan of action! Hell! Even cockroaches can make group decisions!!"

True genius at work (1)

Clazzy (958719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15060960)

Cockroaches, Blattella Germanica, are silent creatures, save perhaps for the sound of them scurrying over a counter top. They therefore must communicate without vocalizing.

I never would have guessed that! Thank God for these clever scientists!
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