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Chimpanzees can transmit cultural behavior to multiple 'generations'

e given no instruction or training to open the testing box. Once each individual animal from the first two social groups proved successful, another animal from the same social group was allowed to observe the process before interacting with the testing box. Once the second animal succeeded, another chimpanzee would enter and observe the technique, and so on down the chain. In the two social groups trained to slide or lift the door, the technique used by the original animal was passed to up to six chimpanzees. The chimpanzees in the control group were able to discover both methods through individual exploration, suggesting the exclusive use of a single technique in the non-control groups was due to behavioral transmission from a previous animal.

"The chimpanzees in this study continued using only the technique they observed rather than an alternative method," said Horner. "This finding is particularly remarkable considering the chimpanzees in the control group were able to discover both methods through individual exploration. Clearly, observing one exclusive technique from a previous chimpanzee was sufficient for transmission of behavior along multiple cultural generations."

This research may contribute to a better understanding of how chimpanzees learn complex behaviors in the wild. "By conducting controlled cultural experiments with captive chimpanzees, we are able to learn more about wild population-specific behavioral differences, thought to represent a form of cultural variation," said Horner. "These findings also show great similarity between human and chimpanzee behavior, suggesting cultural learning may be rooted deep within the evolutionary process."Further studies by researchers at the Yerkes-based Living Links Center, established in 1997 to facilitate primate studies that shed light on human behavioral evolution, may expand on these findings by examining the cognitive mechanisms involved in cultural learning and the generational transmis
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Source:Emory University Health Sciences Center


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