There will be “exclusively human” things, but culture is not one of them: this amazing compilation shows that animal culture is much more than an anecdote
A handful of cranes following an ultralight plane as if it were a traditional migratory route, sedentary bighorn sheep for centuries learning to migrate driven by the need for new grazing areas; monkeys capable of pass from generation to generation things learned from humans; meerkats who supply scorpions without sting to train their children to hunt scorpions or humpback whales that developed a “new way of feeding” using the surface of the water and spread it around the world in just 20 years.
All that, although it may not seem like it, is culture. And if it doesn’t seem like it, it’s basically because culture has long been assumed to be an exclusively human trait. Nevertheless, “a growing body of evidence shows that this is simply not the case“.
What made us unique now makes us like everyone else
In a strict sense this is not a novelty, For the last 70 years, Research has consistently shown that animal culture is not just an anecdote, but spread throughout the animal kingdom and reaches a huge group of vertebrates and invertebrates by land, sea and air. To prove, ‘Science’ publishes a very interesting compilation in charge of Andrew Whiten in which you can see dozens of examples of these cultural practices.
But what is really that of culture? In practical terms and for these purposes, it is everything that is learned from others and passed down through successive generations. That is, what is filtered through behaviors, social learning dynamics, and cognitive skills. And the fact of the matter is that, if we make the conclusions of all this research our own, we cannot look at nature in the same way.
It only remains to recognize that the idea of animal cultures has radical implications for conservation, for well-being and, above all, for understanding the evolution of animal societies. Including, now yes, ours.
Imagen | Sonika Agarwal