Re: Paper on chimp culture

t (Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be)
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 11:15:35 +0200

From: <Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 11:15:35 +0200
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Paper on chimp culture

Ilfryn PRICE wrote:

> Mark
>
> >The study, conducted by primatologist Andrew Whiten of the University of
> >St. Andrews in Scotland and others, was published Thursday in the
> >journal Nature. It goes into detail regarding 39 culturally specific
> >activities regarding tool use, grooming and courtship.
>
> I couldn't get the URL you supplied to open, but the paper also made todays national press in the UK. According to the article
> I read
>
> 1. "Whitten interprets these differences as evidence of imitation and social learning: the things that also explain different
> table manners in Britain and France"
>
> 2. All in all the evidence is that chimpanzees have a remarkable ability to invent new customs and technologies, and that they
> pass them on socially rather than genetically"
>
> 3. The different activities ("manners and social practices") are found in, and characterise different groups (my emphasis) of
> chimpanzees
>
> If
> ___

The funniest thing about this is that it makes such a fuzz. I thought we knew this since long time? And if we didn't have data on
it, that it was because we considered it as self evident that social animals have different habits according to the group they
live in, and that therefore nobody did research on it. Truly amazing creatures we are.As an example, I am quite sure that when you
compare the habits of packs of wolves you will find many differences between packs as well.

Anyway, just one more set of data against the 'humans as imitators only as an explanation for human culture' stance. Why make
things difficult? The only difference between man and animal is symbolic language. Again this is so self evident that I expect
that someone will discover this within a few years and that he/she will make it to the cover page of Nature: "Hey, the difference
is that we can talk! Incredible finding, isn't it?". Truly amazing creatures we are.

(Thanks Mark, I could read it)

> ___________________________________________________________
>
> If Price
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--
Mario Vaneechoutte
Department Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology & Immunology
University Hospital
De Pintelaan 185
9000 GENT
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Phone: +32 9 240 36 92
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Mario.Vaneechoutte@rug.ac.be

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