座頭鯨的捕食方式一向以來都是靠在水裡向魚群吹出一串串氣泡，然後將受驚嚇的魚集中並一口吃掉。直至1980年，有一條座頭鯨發明了一個新的技巧 — 在吹泡泡之前用尾巴拍打水面；這技巧慢慢成為新的潮流。經過27年的觀察，從7萬多個觀察紀錄中，發現當地有37%的座頭鯨都會採用這新技巧，並推斷出是從別的鯨身上學會的。
For many years, there has been a dilemma of whether culture exists in the animal world. Until recently, a team of English researchers had discovered that animals do indeed observe, conform, and learn from each other.
Humpback whales were known to hunt by using clusters of bubbles to shock and group fishes together before engulfing them. This technique was used until 1980, when one of them invented a new technique of hunting – striking the water surface with the tail fin before deploying the bubbles. In 27 years, observers collected 70,000 records and found out that this new technique was used by 37% of the local humpback whale population, and it seemed that they had obtained the new technique by learning from each other.
Researchers had also looked into the cultural behavior within a group of wildlife green monkeys. When a green monkey is introduced to a new group, it would automatically conform to the group’s accepted behavior, disregarding its old one.
It would be foolish to try to define animal cultures with ones that are as complex as human’s, but the dilemma is no longer about the existence of culture in animals, but rather, the complexity of it.