Monkeys and Whales Get Cultured

Monkeys and Whales Get Cultured

Emma Bryce
Published: 04/29/2013

Their mathematical model showed that almost 40% of the humpback population had adopted the behavior, and that almost 90% of the population was thought to have done so by ‘learning’ it from another whale. “It was very, very clear that cultural transmission was important in the spread of the behavior,” said one study author Luke Rendell to the blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Together, the two studies suggest that it’s not genetics alone that drives behavior, but the influence of learning and transmission as well. While the resulting culture is vastly removed from our own, Carel van Schaik, an orangutan researcher who was not associated with the study said to Science that it heralds a new era in animal culture research. The “back-to-back publication marks the moment where we can finally move on to discuss the implications of culture in animals,” he said.

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