It isn't easy being a loner --- someone who resists the pull of the crowd, who marches to their own drummer.
But loners exist across the natural world, and they might just serve a purpose, said Corina Tarnita, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. She ticked off examples of loners who sit out their species--- collective actions: the small herd that skips the great wildebeest migration, the locusts that peel off from the swarm and revert to calm grasshopper behaviors, the handful of bamboo that flower a few days before or after the rest of the species, and the slime molds that hang back from forming the swaying towers studied by Princeton luminary John Bonner.
Now that we're starting to look for it, we realize that a whole lot of systems are not perfectly synchronized --- and it's tantalizing to think that that there may be something to this imperfect synchronization, --- Tarnita said. --- Individuals that are out-of-sync with the majority of a population exist in humans, too. We call them misfits or geniuses, contrarians or visionaries, very much depending on how the rest of the society feels about their behavior, but they certainly exist.
Credit: Science Daily