Cultured Monkeys

In the last issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, Volume 17 Issue 6, Pages 410-414, an article by Michael A. Huffman, Charmalie A.D. Nahallage, and Jean-Baptiste Leca (from the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University):

Cultured Monkeys: Social Learning Cast in Stones (available here)

ABSTRACT-Sixty years ago, the notion that animals could have culture was unthinkable to most behavioral scientists. Today, evidence for innovation, transmission, acquisition, long-term maintenance, and intergroup variation of behavior exists throughout the animal kingdom. What can the longitudinal and comparative study of monkeys handling stones tell us about how culture evolved in humans? Now in its 30th year, the systematic study of stone-handling behavior in multiple troops of Japanese macaques has shown that socially mediated learning is essential to explain the spread, persistence, and transformation of individual behavioral innovations among group members. The integrative research paradigm presented here can be applied to the study of various candidate behavioral traditions in other species.




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