What are the universal laws of Nature concerning animals' behaviour?


This seems to be rather impossible to answer! Very fundamental laws of nature are rather found in physics, mathematics or philosophy than in biology.

The theory of evolution is generally considered as a field that brings light to the whole science of biology. T. Dobzhanski famously said: "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" So I guess you might be interested to "laws" coming from that field.

I'm afraid you will some more knowledge in animal behavior than what you can acquire from this simple question before starting simulating. You can easily spend 5 years studying animal behavior and still having much things to learn from that field.

I would guess you might be interested in the concept of selfishness and altruism. I don't know your level of knowledge in biology. The following might seem a bit complicated (although it is a very brief and inaccurate summary of the real science that study these fields), if so, I would invite you learn about basic stuff in biology and evolutionary biology.

Selfishness and altruism

In order to have natural selection, you need:

  • variation
  • heritability (of the trait that present some variation)
  • different reproductive success (or success of copying itself) according to the trait which is heritable.

Following, this idea, an allele that behave altruistically (providing benefit (in terms of ability to copy itself) to someone else to its cost (always in the same terms)) will disappear to the benefit of the selfish allele and therefore altruistic behavior should never be found in nature.

However, we find altruistic behavior (and that was one of the greatest flaw Darwin could think about his theory):

  • Because of relatedness (Hamilton's law)
    • An animal would always behave in order to increase its inclusive fitness (=direct fitness + indirect fitness)
  • Because of genetically correlated behavior
  • Because of upper level selection
  • Because behaving in a way will directly or indirectly influence the way others will behave with you

Now, that's a very big field. I can't develop everything in this answer! If you liked the discussion of selfishness and altruism, you might be interested to read the selfish gene or the extended phenotype.

If you want to go a bit deeper into mathematical formulation you might be interested in evolutionary game theory and hamilton's rule.

Here is a quick formulation of Hamilton's rule on this website

UPDATE (in reaction to your comment)

So, you're not looking for a scientific law/theory/evidence/etc... you're looking for a simple observation in the nature that fit all animals. Here are some examples:

  • There is no wheeled animals (see this).
  • There is no animal that migrate every year from Earth to Mars
  • All animals need a source of organic carbon
  • All animals possess some flagellates cells (I think)
  • All animals reproduce (not necessarily sexually)

If you want to talk only about behavior, then you might have some trouble to generalize things to all animals because, there are many non-motile animals, many animals that have no brain, many animals that does not even have organs, … As a side note: It is possible that if you accept that a sponge (which is at the base of the Animalia kingdom see this website if you want to learn about what is classified to be an animal) produce some kind of behavior, you will have to accept that an oak tree also have behavior

UPDATE. Ah you meant animal in opposition to human?! Humans are included in my above list. If you look for differences then between human and all other animals, than you won't many other things than the brain and the behavior indeed. I hope nobody lost a whole life of work listing what human can do and what animals can't!

  • Human have a complete and articulate language (I don't fully remember what adjective we use to differentiate human to animal language)
  • Human are conscious that the are conscious that they are! It is quite hard to show that animals are not!
  • Humans are the only animals that drive a car!
  • etc…

You're using the word law in a weird way. You might to have a look to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_law and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_law


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Updated on July 21, 2022


  • WaterBearer
    WaterBearer less than a minute

    I'm looking for very old (centuries) treaty or recent (20 & 21th century) research that state what some of the laws of Nature are, particularly concerning wild animals' behaviour. Such as; every animal does this, no animal does that, etc.

    Laws that could be then used to simulate or reproduce natural behaviours or check against unnatural ones.

    Added: I'm looking for more simple laws, such as "no (wild) animal eats cooked food". Assuming it's true then humans broke that law of Nature. It's the relation to Nature that interests me. I used the word behaviour in the large sense, as in, what are the laws that animals seem to follow (dos and don'ts) in the world. I suppose that by looking at what the human is the only one to do we can find lots of those laws.

    • shigeta
      shigeta over 8 years
      the reference to the particular work you are referring to is more like a research project seems to me. Different times have different opinions on this and without even a century or millenium to tie it to, it does seem impossible. Origin of Species is not a bad example of such a work.
    • Mad Scientist
      Mad Scientist over 8 years
      This question is just far too broad and rather vague in many aspects to be answerable here in this format.
    • WaterBearer
      WaterBearer over 8 years
      It's really simple, but if nobody has gathered such knowledge before then of course it's going to be difficult to answer.
  • WaterBearer
    WaterBearer over 8 years
    That's a bit too theoretic. I'm looking for more simple laws, such as "no (wild) animal eats cooked food". Assuming it's true then humans broke that law of Nature. It's the relation to Nature that interests me. I used the word behaviour in the large sense, as in, what are the laws that animals seem to follow in the world.
  • Remi.b
    Remi.b over 8 years
    @user2534 see the update in my answer.
  • WaterBearer
    WaterBearer over 8 years
    Very funny. Well I guess that by looking at what the human is the only one to do we can find lots of laws. I hoped that someone had already listed them, though.
  • Remi.b
    Remi.b over 8 years
    @user2534 see my updated answer.
  • WaterBearer
    WaterBearer over 8 years
    You don't seem to grasp my idea and I don't know how to explain better. But thanks for attempting to answer. It's not about what animals can or can't do (couldn't be a law) especially not about absurd things like going to Mars, having wheels, driving cars. I meant Laws with capital L, as in established by God. Best examples I can think of are: animals may not eat cooked food, animals may eat their own kind (cannibalism), animals may not copulate with their close parents, animals may kill babies of their own kind.
  • Remi.b
    Remi.b over 8 years
    I am afraid you can hardly explain the difference between some silly examples (the example with wheeled animals is actually very interesting and not silly at all!) and yours because there are no difference! Many humans have copulated with there close parents (look at a genealogy of european royalty). I think there are/were some tribute tat practice canibalism and there are many cases of human killing their own baby. I am even wondering if we couldn't find some animals that let their food some time under a big sun in order to cook it.
  • Remi.b
    Remi.b over 8 years
    What do you call a Law with capital L? You can't use God's will to define anything in science.
  • terdon
    terdon over 8 years
    @user2534 animals often copulate with their parents, they also eat cooked food if they come upon an animal killed by lighting. There are NO "laws" in animal behavior, none for animals and none for human animals either.
  • Remi.b
    Remi.b over 8 years
    ha ha! Don't be impolite! You don't define the word "Law"! And your examples were very poorly found because both human and animals can perform such behavior. Even if I don't quite understand what your "Law" means, I would tend to say that there are no "Law" that explains difference of behavior between animals and humans because there are no fundamental difference between humans and animals as humans are animals. Note: For further purposes I want to say that this website is for scientific discussion which means using scientific metho.