Animals are very badly called beasts. Many ethological studies have shown that certain species have the ability to transmit knowledge to their congeners. We then speak of protoculture, or primitive culture. It would even be more accurate to speak of traditions, because in itself, the knowledge of the animal world is not accumulated over generations (as is the knowledge transmitted to humans). And some examples of transmission are quite amazing.
1. Chickadees taught each other how to open a bottle of milk.
In the 1930s in England, houses had bottles of milk delivered to their doorsteps. Chickadees and robins were fond of it and filled their stomachs with it. After a few years, the milkmen made a more solid aluminum cover in order to avoid the squat of these clandestine beaks.
But shortly after the tits were perfectly capable of piercing the aluminum lid on both sides of the country. They even recognize a preference for whole milk (recognizable by the color of the packaging). Conversely, the robins were like idiots without being able to rinse their throats in milk. This transmission of knowledge is explained by the fact that tits travel a lot unlike robins and would thus have quickly transmitted their opening tips to their little friends. Chickadees invented social networks before their time.
2. The macaques who learned to wash their sweet potatoes
The Japanese primatologist Kinji Imanishi made a comical observation among the macaques of the Koshima peninsula in 1953. A female had the absurd idea of one day going to wash her sweet potato in the stream before eating it. Gradually, the other macaques begin to do the same. Even more surprisingly, this practice is found in the next generation as well.
3. Chimpanzees shake hands
In animal cultures, we also find gestures that have arbitrarily become established, but which are again proof of transmission between members of the same group. Thus ethologists discovered in 78 that the chimpanzees of Kasoge in Tanzania shook hands. On the other hand, 50 km away, the chimpanzees of Gombe had no such practice. Other researchers like Edwin van Leeuwen, however, have shown that chimpanzees have handshakes specific to their group, which explains the differences from one group to another.
4. Humpback whales are song thieves
Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, they don’t really fly (let’s say that the concept of copyright is not very present in the world of humpback whales…) but they borrow the song of whales from other regions. And it’s very practical, because the song of a whale gives us information on its provenance.
5. Brown-headed cowbirds learn everything from those who raise them (not their parents)
We know this all the more because, like cuckoos, cowbirds are parasitic birds that take advantage of slipping their eggs discreetly into the nests of their congeners so that they can feed their offspring. Smart. We also noticed that it was their adoptive community that influenced them the most in terms of their choice of partner. It must not be fun to come out to the cowherds.
6. Orangutans are super good at building their beds.
By cleverly varying the choice of their materials, they are able to build a bed worthy of a Sofitel (just that) except that theirs is nestled in the canopy, which is much more chic than an ordinary bedroom. luxury. So many learnings which again show that the great apes are little geniuses.
7. Orangutans have learned to have a good time.
We stay with our friends the orangutans who are definitely master minds since they have learned to use sex toys in their own way. Obviously, we are not talking about big dildos with rabbit option but rather about sticks that they use to stimulate their sexual organs.
8. Flies copy their neighbors
Oh yes, even fruit flies are good at transmitting knowledge. Studies have shown that these little beasts like to copy the tastes of their neighbors, the color of their partners for example. Anyway, entomologists see in this a sign of collective intelligence, I especially have the impression that fruit flies have no personality. But then, I’m not an entomologist. Neither Drosophila.