Humans aren’t the only animals creating their own culture •

Animals are able to create their own cultures, just like humans, according to a study by Professor Andrew Whiten at St. Andrews University. Research suggests that animals inherit cultural traditions from their parents.

“The pervasive cultural nature of our species has long been thought to define what it is to be human, separating us from the rest of the natural world and the evolutionary processes that shape it,” Professor Whiten said.

“Other species were thought to live by instinct and some capacity for learning, but only humans had culture. Over the past few decades, a rapidly growing body of research has increasingly revealed a very different.

Professor Whiten argues that while culture is seen as traditions that are passed on by learning from others, culture is far from unique to humans. In this case, there is evidence of culture among a growing variety of animals, including mammals, fish, birds, and insects.

According to the study, examples of animal culture range from a group of chimpanzees that have a tradition of carrying a blade of grass in one ear to female fruit flies that copy the mate preferences of other females.

“Culture even permeates the lives of animals, from infancy to adulthood. The young of many species may first learn a great deal from their parents, but increasingly learn of the different skills of others (like us humans), even coming to focus on those in their group who demonstrate the greater expertise, for example in the use of tools,” explained Professor Whiten.

“Learning from others continues to be important into adulthood. Apes and apes have been found to disperse as adults into new groups, avoiding inbreeding, adopt local habits different from those at home – “when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do” appears as a useful rule of what can be learned from the inhabitants of the region. a new environment for these immigrant animals.

Professor Whiten said it must be recognized that culture is not a unique human ability that emerged out of nowhere, but has deep evolutionary roots.

“Recognition of these practical implications of the scope of animal culture, as well as the implications for the wide range of scientific disciplines, should help secure a bright future for researchers in this field,” Professor Whiten said.

“A new generation of scientists will surely pursue the wider expanses of culture in animal life, aided by the substantial arsenal of methodological advances developed over the past two decades.”

The study is published in the journal Science.

By Chrissy Sexon, Personal editor

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