Wednesday, October 02, 2002

WHAT IS CULTURE?

Chimps do not ape culture: discuss
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor (Filed: 02/10/2002)

Experts will today debate whether chimpanzee traditions such as Masonic-style handshakes, mutual back scratching and smashing nuts with hammers make up as real a culture as human art, music and poetry.

If the public meeting in London, backed by the British Academy and the Royal Society, agrees that chimpanzees are part of the cultural domain it may trigger a rethink of mankind's evolution, putting more emphasis on society and less on genes.

The research that prompted the meeting was conducted by Prof Andrew Whiten, of the University of St Andrews, and an international team who uncovered evidence of more than 40 different traditions, covering aspects of tool use, "rain dancing", communication and grooming rituals....