Special Issue

April 2011

Special Issue

A special issue from Royal Society Publishing- 'Culture evolves', organized and edited by Andrew Whiten, Robert A Hinde, Christopher B Stringer & Kevin N Laland.


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£47.50: Details & Order info... (quote special code TB1567)
or email Debbie.Vaughan@royalsociety.org



Social learning:
"...learning that is influenced by observation of, or interaction with, another animal (typically a conspecific) or its products..."
C. Heyes, 1994

"...a distinctive behavior pattern shared by two or more individuals in a social unit, which persists over time and that new practitioners acquire in part through socially aided learning..."
D. Fragaszy & S. Perry, 2003

...defined by some as synonymous with tradition; others require additional criteria such as that cultures are constituted of multiple and/or diverse kinds of traditions, such as technology and social customs...
A. Whiten & C. van Schaik 2007: see Whiten, 2005 and Laland and Galef, 2009, for further discussion


Case Study 2:
Teaching and Learning by Observation in Meerkats

culture in meerkats

Teaching, where knowledgeable individuals go out of their way to help others learn, is a cornerstone of human culture. Until recently it was thought that humans were the only teachers in the animal kingdom, but our research has found that meerkats teach their pups how to hunt by providing the pups with opportunities to practice their skills (1).

We have also shown that meerkats can pick up new ways of obtaining food by observing other group members: in field experiments where we trained 'demonstrator' meerkats to obtain food using different methods, the demonstrators' techniques spread locally within their groups (2).

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