Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Primate Culture Is Just A Stone's Throw Away From Human Evolution, Study Finds

Date:
January 15, 2009
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
For 30 years, scientists have been studying stone-handling behavior in several troops of Japanese macaques to catch a unique glimpse of primate culture. By watching these monkeys acquire and maintain behavioral traditions from generation to generation, the scientists have gained insight into the cultural evolution of humans.

Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). Jigokudani Hot Spring, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For 30 years, scientists have been studying stone-handling behavior in several troops of Japanese macaques to catch a unique glimpse of primate culture. By watching these monkeys acquire and maintain behavioral traditions from generation to generation, the scientists have gained insight into the cultural evolution of humans.

Related Articles


Primatologists Michael A. Huffman, Charmalie A.D. Nahallage, and Jean-Baptiste Leca from the Primate Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan assessed social learning exhibited by these macaques during stone-handling, a behavior that has been passed down from elder to younger since it was observed in some of the troops in 1979. Stone-handling, in this study, included rubbing and clacking stones together, pounding them onto hard surfaces, picking them up, and cuddling, carrying, pushing, rolling and throwing them.

The scientists found, for example, that an infant's proximity to their mother had a significant impact on the development of the infant's stone-handling abilities. In other words, infants with mothers who frequently exhibited stone-handling behaviors spent more time with their mother, about 75% of their time, during the first three months of life, and they also participated in stone-handling earlier in life than the other infants. These findings suggest that the mothers' frequent stone-handling caught the infants' attention, and as a result, the infants acquired the behavior more quickly than other infants.

Furthermore, as the primatologists reported in the December 2008 issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, the stone-handling behavior changed with each generation as individual macaques contributed their own patterns of stone-handling, such as stone-throwing.

"The recent emergence of a unique behavior, stone-throwing, may serve to augment the effect of intimidation displays," concluded the authors. "Research on such transformation may shed light on the evolution of stone-tool use in early hominids."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Huffman et al. Cultured Monkeys: Social Learning Cast in Stones. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2008; 17 (6): 410 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00616.x

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Primate Culture Is Just A Stone's Throw Away From Human Evolution, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112110058.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2009, January 15). Primate Culture Is Just A Stone's Throw Away From Human Evolution, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112110058.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Primate Culture Is Just A Stone's Throw Away From Human Evolution, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090112110058.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossil Treasures at Risk in Morocco Desert Town

Fossil Treasures at Risk in Morocco Desert Town

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) Hundreds of archeological jewels in and around the town of 30,000 people prompt geologists and archeologists to call the Erfoud area "the largest open air fossil museum in the world". Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oldest Bone Ever Sequenced Shows Human/Neanderthal Mating

Oldest Bone Ever Sequenced Shows Human/Neanderthal Mating

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) A 45,000-year-old thighbone is showing when humans and neanderthals may have first interbred and revealing details about our origins. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) You've probably seen some weird-looking dinosaurs, but have you ever seen one this weird? It's worth a look. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins