Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Signs of Culture in Whales and Monkeys

The phrase “monkey see, monkey do” applies to humpback whales. Vervet monkeys and humpback whales both copy behaviors from their neighbors, researchers report April 25 in Science. The two studies suggest that, like humans, some wild animals pick up new habits from each other. Accurately imitating one another’s actions is a “potential building block of culture,” says cultural evolutionist Peter Richerson of the University of California, Davis, who was not involved with the work. Complex culture builds upon people learning skills from each other, he says. more

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