Animal Culture - Culture in Other Animals

Culture in Other Animals

When moving past birds and into other creatures, the cultural research becomes few and far between. Notable research has been done with black rats, Norwegian rats, guppies, and ants.

Among the cultural studies of rats, the most widely discussed research is that performed by Joseph Terkel in 1991 on a species of black rats that he had originally observed in the wild in Israel. Terkel conducted an in-depth study aimed to determine whether the observed behavior, the systematic stripping of pine cone scales from pine cones prior to eating, was a socially acquired behavior, as this action had not been observed elsewhere. The experimentation with and observation of these black rats was one of the first to integrate field observations with laboratory experiments to analyze the social learning involved. From the combination of these two types of research, Terkel was able to analyze the mechanisms involved in this social learning to determine that this eating behavior resulted from a combination of ecology and cultural transmission, as the rats could not figure out how to eat the pinecones without being "shown" by mature rats. Though this research is fairly recent, it is often used as a prime example of evidence for culture in non-primate, non-cetacean beings.

Read more about this topic:  Animal Culture

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