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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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The Roots of Creativity

The Roots of Creativity

(p.99) Chapter 5 The Roots of Creativity
Darwin's Unfinished Symphony

Kevin N. Laland

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines animal innovation, which is the devising of a novel solution to a problem, or a new way of exploiting the environment. The habit appears special only by virtue of its familiarity. The chapter argues that, in reality, many thousands of innovations have been devised by a broad variety of animals. Birds and mammals are known to incorporate new items or novel techniques into their foraging repertoires; whales, dolphins, and birds introduce novel vocal elements into their songs; apes and monkeys concoct novel deceptive acts; primates and birds invent new tools; and countless other animals create novel courtship displays and social behavior. Animal innovations are highly diverse and wide-ranging. This chapter summarizes some experiments into animal creativity and invention, revealing that animals do exhibit behavior that can sensibly be termed “innovation,” even if the consanguinity of nonhuman-animal and human innovation is a matter of debate. These investigations, and those of other animal innovation researchers, provide compelling evidence that humans do not have a monopoly on creativity. Many animals invent new behavior patterns, modify existing behavior to a novel context, or respond to social and ecological stresses in an appropriate and novel manner.

Keywords:   animal innovation, animal creativity, new behavior patterns, human innovation, novel techniques

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