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Darwin's Unfinished Symphony$
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Kevin N. Laland

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691182810

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691182810.001.0001

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Ubiquitous Copying

Ubiquitous Copying

(p.31) Chapter 2 Ubiquitous Copying
Darwin's Unfinished Symphony

Kevin N. Laland

Princeton University Press

This chapter provides a brief overview of the evidence for social learning in animals, demonstrating the ubiquity of copying in nature. It explains that learning from others is an extremely prevalent trick that animals rely on to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to earn a living in a tough and unforgiving world. All kinds of creatures exploit the wisdom others have accrued, and that wisdom is absolutely vital to the animal's survival. This chapter presents examples from some of the better-studied functional domains in some of the most intensively researched animal systems on the myriad of different ways in which animals exploit information provided by others. However, it also points out that social learning is so useful that it crops up in contexts that are far less intuitive, including some instances in which science has yet to understand the function of the transmitted behavior. Copying is everywhere in nature, where animals regularly invent new solutions to problems, and these innovations often spread through the population, sometimes generating behavioral differences akin to cultures.

Keywords:   copying, social learning, transmitted behavior, cultures, behavioral differences, animals

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