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MARCH 1 | Kevin Laland, University of St. Andrews

Title: Animal Social Learning and the Evolution of Culture

Audience: Open to public.

Location: 10 Guyot Hall

Date/Time: 03/01/10 at 12:30 pm - 03/01/10 at 1:20 pm

ABSTRACT: Both demographically and ecologically, humans are a remarkably successful species. This success is generally attributed to our capacity for culture. But how did our species' extraordinary cultural capabilities evolve from its roots in animal social learning and tradition? In this seminar Laland will provide a provisional answer. After characterizing contemporary research into animal social learning and illustrating this overview with experiments from his laboratory, he will focus in on a case study of stickleback learning that illustrates the strategic nature of animal copying. Laland will go on to describe the findings of an international competition (the 'social learning strategies tournament') that he organized to investigate the best way to learn. Laland will suggest that the tournament sheds light on why copying is widespread in nature, and why humans happen to be so good at it. Finally, he will end by describing some other theoretical projects suggesting feedback mechanisms that may have been instrumental to the evolution of culture.   |   FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT: Terry Guthrie tguthrie@princeton.edu

Category: Special Seminar

Department: EEB