An animal protecting or otherwise supporting its mate or direct descendents contributes to the propagation of its own personal design and is therefore compatible with traditional evolutionary mechanics theory. However, an animal protecting an animal that was not a mate or direct descendent promotes the propagation of another animal's design at the expense of the subject animal and is therefore behavior incompatible with traditional theory. The survival of the fittest concept leads to a dog-eat-dog view of the biological world.
In fact, animals have been frequently observed sacrificing their own well-being protecting or supporting other animals that were not mates or direct descendents. Animal altruism is therefore one of the observations that conflicts with traditional evolutionary mechanics theory.
For historical reasons altruism captured the attention of theorists in a way that other, seemingly more significant conflicts such as sexual reproduction and life span observations, did not. Altruism led to the development of some alternative evolutionary mechanics theories including group selection, kin selection, and some gene-centered mechanics theories.
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