Mon, Nov 05, 2007 - Page 15 News List

Culture exists among chimpanzees 黑猩猩的文化

Two chimpanzees at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia, Sep. 22, 2007.
九月二十二日,兩隻在澳洲雪梨的塔隆加動物園的黑猩猩。

PHOTO: AFP

Chimpanzees are the only animals, other than humans, that learn certain cultural behaviors - such as grooming, hunting or how to crack open nuts -- from those around them, according to a study.

Culture is defined by scientists as a set of socially-learned behaviors that differ between populations. Because the behavior is learned from a local group, individual populations may carry out the same task differently.

"Culture has long been considered to be not only unique to humans, but also responsible for making us different from all other forms of life," wrote researchers, led by Stephen Lycett of the University of Liverpool. "In recent years, however, researchers studying chimpanzees have challenged this idea. Natural populations of chimpanzees have been found to vary greatly in their behavior."

Many animals learn skills from their parents or peers but none of it is considered a cultural ability because it is usually limited to one activity. Chimpanzees, however, have demonstrated almost 40 different activities that seem to be learned and which differ between populations.

Studies of chimpanzees in eastern and western Africa show that some use only stone tools to crack nuts open while others use both wooden and stone tools.

Dr. Lycett and his team made a genetic family tree of the different groups of chimpanzees from eastern and western Africa and correlated it with the animals' behavior. The team found that the small differences in genes between groups could not account for behavioral differences.

"Our results support the suggestion that the behavioral patterns are the product of social learning and, therefore, can be considered cultural," wrote Dr. Lycett. (The Guardian)

OUT LOUD 對話練習

Harry: How was your trip to Thailand?

Sam: Great, but I still can't make heads or tails of Thai culture.

Harry: Why not?

Sam: The average Thai is very conservative and religious, but parts of their society are more open than almost anything I've seen in America.

Harry: I think you'd have to live there to really get a handle on the culture.

哈瑞:你的泰國之旅好玩嗎?

山姆:超棒的!但是我對泰國文化還是一頭霧水。

哈瑞:怎麼說呢?

山姆:泰國基本上還是非常傳統而且有虔誠的信仰,但是社會上某部分卻比美國更開放

哈瑞:我想你真的要住在那裡才能體會他們的文化精粹吧。

To make heads or tails of something means to understand that thing. It's almost always used in the negative. For example, "Pierre spent three weeks in America but he still can't make heads or tails of the culture."

對某事「make heads or tails」表示了解這件事情〞俄個片語絕大部分用字否定用法,例如:「皮耶爾在美國呆了三個禮拜,但是他對美國文化仍然一頭霧水。」


一項研究結果顯示,黑星興是除了人類之外,唯一具有學習特定文化行為的動物。他們從周遭環境學習行為模式,例如:打扮、狩獵或是如何敲開堅果殼等。

科學家對「文化」的定義為,不同族群監社會成員透過學習後,表現出來的行為模式。由於這些行為模式是透過當地族群學習而來的,不同地區的居民會發展出不同的解決問題的方法。

「長久以來,我們一直認為文化不僅是存於人類社會,也是我們有別於其他動物的原因。」由史蒂芬•里賽特頓領軍的利物浦研究團隊寫到:「然而,近年來研究黑猩猩的學者們卻挑戰了這個概念。他們發現自然界的黑猩猩擁有一套相當完整的行為模式。」

許多動物都從他們的父母或同儕身上學習生活技能,但是這些都不算文化行為,因為這些行為大多僅止於單一活動。

但是黑猩猩卻展現了多達四十種透過學習而具備的行為模式,而且這些行為模式也因地區的不同而有所差異。

研究顯示,非洲東部和西部的黑猩猩同樣要敲開堅果殼,有些僅使用時頭當作工具,有些卻同時使用模頭和石頭。

里賽博士和他的研究團隊替非洲東部和西部的黑猩猩製作了一個基因族譜,並將應用在他們的動物行為研究上。研究團隊

發現,兩組黑猩猩基因中的微小差別不足以解釋牠們個別的行為差異。

「我們的研究結果告進一步地證實行為模式是社會學習後的產物這個推論。因此,這些行為模式可以是稱為文化行為。」

(法新社/翻譯:袁星塵)

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