The burgeoning reach of animal culture

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Abstract

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. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabe6514
JournalScience
Volume372
Issue number6537
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2021

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