“The reach of animal culture has been found to extend across many different behavioral domains.”
Think culture and fashion are unique to humans? Well, think again! A scientist actually published a study where he reviewed decades worth of research and according to him, yes, animals have it, too.
Prof Andrew Whiten, emeritus Wardlaw professor of evolutionary and developmental psychology at the University of St Andrews, has said that culture isn’t exclusive to humans.
Case in point, a chimpanzee in a Zambian wildlife sanctuary has started a trend among other animals when she started “wearing” a grass blade in one of her ears. Julie, the chimp, was later copied by at least 8 out of 12 chimpanzees.
Prof Whiten said in an interview:
“It’s a totally arbitrary behavior… It does demonstrate something which is shared with our own species, where our culture is so powerful that it becomes almost an end in itself, to be like others to act like others.
“That may affect, in the case of humans, how we like to dress, our fashion, how we decorate ourselves, how we do our hair. And here’s just a little kind of elementary example showing that even chimpanzees are such cultural beings that they may do that.”
According to the professor, even fruit flies demonstrated behavior of “mate-choice copying” as females preferred certain types of males that later passed on to generations. Moreover, young cranes followed their “surrogate parent’s” flight pattern whenever they migrate.
Published in the Science mag, “The burgeoning reach of animal culture” likewise tells us:
“Culture can be defined as all that is learned from others and is repeatedly transmitted in this way, forming traditions that may be inherited by successive generations. This cultural form of inheritance was once thought specific to humans, but research over the past 70 years has instead revealed it to be widespread in nature, permeating the lives of a diversity of animals, including all major classes of vertebrates. Recent studies suggest that culture’s reach may extend also to invertebrates—notably, insects.”
The paper continued:
“In the present century, the reach of animal culture has been found to extend across many different behavioral domains and to rest on a suite of social learning processes facilitated by a variety of selective biases that enhance the efficiency and adaptiveness of learning. Far-reaching implications, for disciplines from evolutionary biology to anthropology and conservation policies, are increasingly being explored.”
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