The Evolution of hominin culture and its ancient pre-hominin foundations

Andrew Whiten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines the nature of culture in the broad evolutionary context of animal behavior, thus delineating the ancient foundations of the series of steps that eventuated in hominin culture. Focusing then on primates, further conclusions are drawn about the direct evolutionary antecedents of hominin culture in the most recent ancestors that humans share with great apes. Hominin cultural evolution is finally examined in the context of a complex of advances in social and technological cognition and other features that include unprecedented encephalization and extended childhood. The ‘nature of culture’ is dissected through two complementary conceptual schemes: a broad pyramidal evolutionary model extended in other chapters in this volume, and a three-element comparative analysis considering in turn social learning processes, cultural contents and the spatio-temporal distribution of traditions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Publication series

NameVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
ISSN (Print)1877-9077


  • Acheulean
  • Apes
  • Early humans
  • Emulation
  • Imitation
  • Oldowan
  • Social learning
  • Traditions


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