Wilson’s presentation focused on an extreme form of social behavior termed “eusocial” by scientists. Eusocial species are those in which some individuals act altruistically to benefit the group instead of selfishly to benefit themselves. Eusocial species have evolved just a handful of times — all of them relatively recently.
Eusocial species include ants and bees plus naked mole rats in Africa, some crustaceans, and humans. Though these species represent a tiny fraction of all species on Earth, their success has been breathtaking.
Humans have multiplied and risen to dominate the planet while ants are so successful that their biomass is greater than that of all nonhuman land vertebrates.
“It is in this very small array of evolutionary lines that the numerically most abundant and ecologically dominant creatures on Earth — at least on land — are found,” Wilson said.