RE: Macaque culture was: Dawkins' Mutation Test for Replicators

Gatherer, D. (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 09:27:57 +0200

Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 09:27:57 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: Macaque culture was: Dawkins' Mutation Test for Replicators
To: "''" <>


Nishida, T. 1987. Local Traditions and Cultural Transmission. In Primate
Societies, eds. B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham, and
T.T. Struhsaker. University of Chicago Press.

I have been relying on secondary sources, including this one: "The
phenotypic effects of a meme may be in the form of words, music, visual
images, styles of clothes, facial or hand gestures, skills such as opening
milk bottles in tits, or panning wheat in Japanese macaques." (P. 109 of
"The Extended Phenotype" by Dawkins, paperback edition, 1983.)

Has Nishida been debunked?

My own secondary source for this is:

King, Barbara J (1991) Social information transfer in monkeys, apes and
hominids. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 34, 97-115.

specifically p105

"Even the classic example, [ie on 'the role of information transfer in
primate foraging'], sweet potato washing by Japanese macaques Macaca
fuscata, following the technique's invention by the young female Imo, has
been questioned. First during at least some years, the human caretaker at
Koshima reinforced those monkeys that exhibited washing behaviour by giving
the sweet potatoes only to them. Second, the average interval between the
invention of sweet potato washing and its acquisition by other individuals
the same age as the innovator, or older, was 2.2 years. This may be too
long a time for social mechanisms to be operating. Third infants ate
potatoes from the water all along as they grew up, raising the possibility
that individual acquisition of potato washing was facilitated by early
experience and was not related to social transmission."

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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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