Cumulative Cultural Development May Be Exclusively Human

Cumulative Cultural Development May Be Exclusively Human

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In the span of a few thousand years human beings have achieved some remarkable feats, innovating and crafting a rich web of traditions and beliefs that we pass from one generation to the next. The young learn from the old, and not only master traditional techniques but reshape them, creating a dynamic culture in which creativity and inventiveness yield increasingly complex solutions. But beyond intelligence and opposable thumbs, how did humans develop culture in such myriad, complex ways, when other brainy, dexterous species did not? Tests comparing young children, chimpanzees and monkeys suggest that collaboration, rather than competition, may be the key to human culture.

Some behavioral scientists suggest that although cultural traditions exist in many species, only humans possess a culture that accumulates.

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