social behavior of animals

social behavior of animals

  • Culture - Not Just a Human Thing!

    Humankind is capable of great accomplishments, such as sending probes into space and eradicating diseases; these achievements have been made possible because humans learn from their elders and enrich this knowledge over generations.  Thanks to  this cumulative aspect of culture – whereby small changes build up, are transmitted, used and enriched by others –, humans use techniques that evolve and improve from one generation to the next, and also differ from one population to another. It was already know that chimpanzees learn many things from their peers, but each individual seems to start learning from scratch. Thus cumulative culture was previously thought that be unique to humans.  But, for the first time, a type of cumulative cultural evolution has now been observed in another primate, the baboon. This discovery show that  specifically human capacities, such as language, are not necessarily required for the emergence of cumulative cultures.    Reference and learn...

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  • Are we hardwired to see patterns and links where there isn't, to believe?

    Photo credit: Aiwok  Empathetic behavior, the notion of justice, and reconciliation signs, once thought to be limited to humans, are also found in other species, especially in primates. Among these traits we found both in humans and in other species, some, in some circumstances, can play tricks on us and even have dramatic consequences. This is the case of the hot-hand fallacy. This cognitive bias is the deceptive belief that a person who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of winning the next attempts. This fallacy is well known by casinos, but much less by players...   Researchers at the University of Rochester had the fun idea to set up for rhesus monkeys a gambling game —which they quickly loved! They were surprised to discover that the macaques, just like people, seek and establish patterns between sets even when they are totally random!   Benjamin Hayden, a co-author of the study, explains why we humans (but also apes)...

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  • A human nature driven by some evolutionary impulses towards justice, empathy ... cooperation.

    Reconciliation, cooperation, fairness, caring about the well-being of others, seem to us uniquely human until Frans De Waal shared his experiments. You will find in this talk some surprising (and funny!) videos revealing different kinds of empathetic behavior in non-human primates and mammals.   Frans De Waal is the most famous primatologist in the world (in 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds' 100 Most Influential People Today).               Related articles

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  • Human nature: unique?

    Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology. His analysis is based on thirty years of studying baboons in East Africa. Humans can no longer be considered the only animal that: makes tool kills members of its own species (though we are the only one that kills remotely) has a theory of mind (though we are the only one with a "secondary theory of mind"*) understands something like the Golden Rule (we are the only one with the capability to understand it in a broader perspective taking into account the particular circumstances) shows elements of empathy (though we are unique in the range of empathy that we feel toward strangers, members of other species and even abstract representations) is motivated by reward, even uncertain one (but we are the only one that has long lag times between stimulus and reward that could happen even after death) cultural transmissions of behavior or cultures (but we are the only animal able to...

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  • When a monkey financial market goes bankrupt ... Crisis or limit?

    Laurie Santos, a researcher in cognitive psychology, had the fun idea to create the first financial market for some cute little monkeys, the Capuchin. Their currency, the Token, is used to buy food from different sellers, who are more or less honest, and whose sales strategies differ. It turns out that Capuchin monkeys are as gifted as humans when it comes to managing their money. They are looking for good value for their money and watch out for special offers. They also are as talented as us at spending money like there's no tomorrow and at spontaneously stealing their fellows and the sellers (which wasn't expect by the experimenters!). This experiment has highlighted two biases in our cousin, that were considered, until now, specific to human: • the fear of loss: loss frightens us so much that we are willing to go to great lengths to avoid it, even at the price of higher risk to lose everything. • emotive irrationality: we are naturally more likely to make...

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