Culture in Species Other than Humans

This article reflects on recent studies conducted on nonhuman animals and argues that the idea of culture is not solely a human phenomenon. This article focuses specifically on how different species of birds can create and maintain their own culture. Culture is defined as the beliefs and customs of a certain group. Although it is difficult to discern whether or not birds have their own belief system, especially since birds’ brains are completely different than humans, there are some studies which have shown how different species of birds can have their own traditions and work together in a social setting. A study this article talks about that I found very interesting was done on the species of bird called the great tit. In this study, two birds were taken from their communities and were taught to open a door in order to obtain food. One bird was taught to open the door from the left and one was taught to open the door from the right. When these birds were released back into the wild, they brought these techniques back with them, which spread throughout their communities and became traditions.

Although I think this article is incredibly interesting and touches upon many arguments which I have never heard of before, I don’t think the article specifically defined what they consider to be culture, and it was very vaguely described. Even though I find the study to be very interesting, I am confused as to how birds opened doors from a specific direction when they went back into the wild, and I don’t think it was very clearly explained. I would like to learn more about this subject and hopefully be able to understand it more.