Tuesday, 21 October 2014

"Animal Culture" exhibit at the Great British Bioscience Festival

"Animal Culture: Nature's second inheritance system" is one of the engaging and exciting displays that will be on offer at the Great British Bioscience Festival on 14-16 November at the Museum Gardens in London's Bethnal Green, showcasing the best of British bioscience by BBSRC researchers.

The Animal Cultures team consists of Prof. Andy Whiten of the School of Psychology and Neuroscience as well as researchers from the University of Exeter, Newcastle University and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Edinburgh Zoo.
The research behind the exhibit revealed cultural processes of varying complexity in primates, birds and fish (e.g. "The scope of culture in chimpanzees, humans and ancestral apes". Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, DOI:  10.1098/rstb.2010.0334; and further reading). Observational and experimental studies have identified cultural differences across different wild populations and have shown migrating individuals conforming to local group habits. Controlled experiments seeded foraging techniques in animal groups and mapped the spread of these techniques, creating local traditions. The team's discoveries highlight a potent ‘second inheritance system’ in animals that complements genetics. This illuminates human cultural evolution, and has implications in areas as varied as child development, robotics, welfare and conservation.

This free festival is accessible for all and will be the culmination of a yearlong programme of activities marking BBSRC's 20th anniversary – bringing together exciting exhibits from world-leading bioscience research groups.

The research is highlighted in the Leverhulme Trust Annual Review 2013.