Animal Behavior

Behavioral Ecology

Do animal societies have a culture?

Culture can be defined as the set of societal rules that are passed from one generation to the next, with the parents or caregivers teaching juveniles what they need to know in order to participate in their society. Animals sometimes exhibit “culture”; for example, elephant families rely on memory and the knowledge of the matriarch (oldest female) to respond to social cues. She controls the direction in which the herd moves and where and for how long feeding occurs, and when danger strikes, the other herd members cluster around the matriarch. Perhaps most striking is the tender loving care lavished on young elephants. The bond between mother and daughter elephants lasts up to fifty years. (For more about elephants and emotions, see this chapter.)


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