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The scope of culture in chimpanzees, humans and ancestral apes

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Abstract

More studies have focused on aspects of chimpanzee behaviour and cognition relevant to the evolution of culture than on any other species except our own. Accordingly, analysis of the features shared by chimpanzees and humans is here used to infer the scope of cultural phenomena in our last common ancestor, at the same time clarifying the nature of the special characteristics that advanced further in the hominin line. To do this, culture is broken down into three major aspects: the large scale, population-level patterning of traditions; social learning mechanisms; and the behavioural and cognitive contents of culture. Each of these is further dissected into subcomponents. Shared features, as well as differences, are identified in as many as a dozen of these, offering a case study for the comparative analysis of culture across animal taxa and a deeper understanding of the roots of our own cultural capacities.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1007
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
Volume366
Issue number1567
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Apr 2011

    Research areas

  • culture, traditions, cultural evolution, social learning, apes, chimpanzees, TOOL-USE, PAN-TROGLODYTES, CUMULATIVE CULTURE, WILD CHIMPANZEES, TRANSMISSION, EVOLUTION, CONFORMITY, TRADITIONS, IMITATION, CHILDREN

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