As I explain throughout this book, evolution by natural selection means that nature selects or favors heritable traits (or characteristics) that increase an organism's fitness — how successful it is at getting its genes into future generations. Yet some organisms actually postpone reproduction or forgo it.
At first glance, such actions seem to be absolutely out of step with the core concepts of evolution until you realize that in some cases, such as those highlighted in the following sections, delaying or abandoning reproduction can actually make an organism more fit. Which brings me to the evolution of altruism and how doing good for others can be good for you.
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