Thursday, September 27, 2007

Is Culture Limited to Humans?



photo of an orangutan mother with a baby on her back
Non-human culture?
This orangutan mother is
using a specially prepared
stick to "fish out" food from
a crevice. She learned this
skill and is now teaching it
to her child who is hanging
on her shoulder and intently
watching.









Here is an interesting perspective from Dr. Dennis O' Neill at the Behavioral sciences Department, Palomar College, San Marcos, California:
"There is a difference of opinion in the behavioral sciences about whether or not we are the only animal that creates and uses culture. The answer to this question depends on how narrow culture is defined. If it is used broadly to refer to a complex of learned behavior patterns, then it is clear that we are not alone in creating and using culture. Many other animal species teach their young what they themselves learned in order to survive. This is especially true of the chimpanzees and other relatively intelligent apes and monkeys. Wild chimpanzee mothers typically teach their children about several hundred food and medicinal plants. Their children also have to learn about the dominance hierarchy and the social rules within their communities. As males become teenagers, they acquire hunting skills from adults. Females have to learn how to nurse and care for their babies. Chimpanzees even have to learn such basic skills as how to perform sexual intercourse. This knowledge is not hardwired into their brains at birth. They are all learned patterns of behavior just as they are for humans".

There you have it! Meanwhile, check Keogh & Associates Consulting, LLC for more on culture related topics.

2 comments:

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