Animals have culture, too, and for some it’s crucial to their survival and conservation

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  • On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast we explore animal culture and social learning with author Carl Safina and whale researcher Hal Whitehead.
  • Carl Safina examines the capacity of several animal species for social learning and transmitting knowledge across generations in his new book, Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace. Safina appears on the Mongabay Newscast today to explain how sperm whales, scarlet macaws, and chimpanzees are equipped to live in the world they live in as much by what they learn from other individuals in their social groups as by their genetic inheritance.
  • Hal Whitehead, a professor at Canada’s Dalhousie University, was one of the first scientists to examine the complex social lives of sperm whales and the distinctive calls known as codas that they use to establish their group and personal identities. He appears on the podcast today to play us some recordings of sperm whale codas and tell us about sperm whale culture and social learning.

On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast we explore animal culture and social learning with author Carl Safina and whale researcher Hal Whitehead.

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It was once widely believed that us humans were the only creatures on Earth capable of creating culture, and that is still a prevalent viewpoint. No matter how you choose to define culture, however, it’s now clear that humans are far from the only animal on Earth with the capacity for social learning and transmitting knowledge to future generations.

Carl Safina examines the capacity of several animal species for social learning and transmitting knowledge across generations in his new book, Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace. Human researchers figure prominently, but the main characters in Safina’s book are sperm whales, scarlet macaws, and chimpanzees — and Safina appears on the Mongabay Newscast today to explain how each of these species are equipped to live in the world they live in as much by what they learn from other individuals in their social groups as they are by their genetic inheritance.

In the book, Carl Safina calls Hal Whiteheadthe pioneering sperm whale researcher” who has “studied social learning in whales and dolphins for decades.” Whitehead, a professor at Canada’s Dalhousie University, was one of the first scientists to examine the complex social lives of sperm whales and the distinctive calls known as codas that they use to establish their group and personal identities. He appears on the podcast today to play us some recordings of sperm whale codas and tell us about sperm whale culture and social learning.

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Pascal the chimpanzee uses a leaf sponge for drinking, a socially learned behavior, in Uganda. Photo by Carl Safina.
Sperm whales live in tight-knit family units. Photo Credit: NOAA.

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This story first appeared on Mongabay

South Africa Today – Environment


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