The culture of tool use in primates

In wild primates, the presence of culture has been inferred by showing that simple ecological and genetic differences cannot account for all behavioural variation across populations (e.g. tool use). However, this method ignores the influence of the environment on culture. Kathelijne Koops discusses her Biology Letters paper which shows that this influence is quite strong: environmental opportunity drives the innovation and transmission of cultural variants, whereas necessity has no such effect. There may thus be much more animal culture than hitherto documented. She explains how studying material culture in primates can inform us on how humans developed their extraordinary material culture and technology.

Video cover image © Kathelijne Koops.

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