Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Culture extends the scope of evolutionary biology in the great apes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Abstract

Discoveries about the cultures and cultural capacities of the great apes have played a leading role in the recognition emerging in recent decades that cultural inheritance can be a significant factor in the lives not only of humans, but of non-human animals. This prominence derives in part from the fact that these primates are those with whom we share the most recent common ancestry, thus offering clues to the origins of our own thoroughgoing reliance on cumulative cultural achievements. In addition, the intense research focus on these species has spawned an unprecedented diversity of complementary methodological approaches, the results of which suggest that cultural phenomena pervade the lives of these apes, with potentially major implications for their broader evolutionary biology. Here I review what this extremely broad array of observational and experimental methodologies has taught us about the cultural lives of chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, and consider the ways in which this extends our wider understanding of primate biology and the processes of adaptation and evolution that shape it. I address these issues by first evaluating the extent to which the results of cultural inheritance echo a suite of core principles that underlie organic, Darwinian evolution, but also extend them in new ways; and secondly by assessing the principal causal interactions between the primary, genetically-based organic processes of evolution, and the secondary system of cultural inheritance that is based on social learning from others.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
VolumeEarly Edition
Early online date24 Jul 2017
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jul 2017

    Research areas

  • Social learning, Culture, Evolutionary biology, Chimpanzee, Gorilla, Orangutan

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies: exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children

    McGuigan, N., Burdett, E., Burgess, V., Dean, L., Lucas, A., Vale, G. & Whiten, A. 5 Dec 2017 In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 372, 1735, 14 p., 20160425

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. A second inheritance system: the extension of biology through culture

    Whiten, A. 6 Oct 2017 In : Interface Focus. 7, 5, 16 p., 20160142

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Acquisition of a socially learned tool use sequence in chimpanzees: implications for cumulative culture

    Vale, G. L., Davis, S. J., Lambeth, S. P., Schapiro, S. J. & Whiten, A. Sep 2017 In : Evolution and Human Behavior. 38, 5, p. 635-644 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Resilience of experimentally-seeded dietary traditions in wild vervets: evidence from group fissions

    van de Waal, E., van Schaik, C. P. & Whiten, A. 1 Aug 2017 In : American Journal of Primatology. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Adaptive cultural transmission biases in children and nonhuman primates

    Price, E. E., Wood, L. A. & Whiten, A. Aug 2017 In : Infant Behavior and Development. 48, Part A, p. 45-53 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Related by journal

  1. Synchronous volcanic eruptions and abrupt climate change ~17.7k years ago plausibly linked by stratospheric ozone depletion

    McConnell, J. R. , Burke, A. , Dunbar, N. W. , Köhler, P. , Thomas, J. L. , Arienzo, M. M. , Chellman, N. J. , Maselli, O. J. , Sigl, M. , Adkins, J. F. , Baggenstos, D. , Burkhart, J. F. , Brook, E. J. , Buizert, C. , Cole-Dai, J. , Fudge, T. J. , Knorr, G. , Graf, H-F. , Grieman, M. M. , Iverson, N. & 9 others McGwire, K. C., Mulvaney, R., Paris, G., Rhodes, R. H., Saltzman, E. S., Severinghaus, J. P., Steffensen, J. P., Taylor, K. C. & Winckler, G. 5 Sep 2017 In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Early Edition, 6 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Coevolution of cultural intelligence, extended life history, sociality, and brain size in primates

    Street, S. E., Navarrete, A. F., Reader, S. M. & Laland, K. N. 24 Jul 2017 In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114, 30, p. 7908-7914

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The extension of biology through culture

    Whiten, A., Ayala, F., Feldman, M. W. & Laland, K. N. 24 Jul 2017 In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Early Edition, 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Journal)

    Nevels, M. M. (Guest editor)
    Jul 2016 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Journal)

    Smith, T. K. (Member of editorial board)
    2012 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Journal)

    Smith, T. K. (Member of editorial board)
    2008 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  4. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Journal)

    Miles, G. B. (Reviewer)
    2006 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

ID: 249911376