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Cooperation is the foundation of human society, animal herds, flocks and other social groups of animals. Only through cooperation can evolution construct structures of higher order . This includes even living cells whose components must work together to maintain the cell's functions and which themselves must cooperate to form multi-cellular organisms, which again can form groups, societies or states. Cooperation permeates so many aspects of our daily life and our environment that it is important to understand the mechanisms that lead to the evolution of cooperation.
The evolution of cooperation has been a puzzle for evolutionary theorists since Darwin. The traditional understanding of natural selection is that evolution appears to be about competition. Yet this simple model of evolution by natural selection, in which the key element is the maximization of the individual's reproductive output, does not account for individuals that give up part of their reproductive potential in order to cooperate with others. For example, in gray wolves only the dominant male and female reproduce while all pack members cooperate to feed the group .