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Social Behavior Of Hominids Essay

1922 words - 8 pages

With the exploratory analysis of the existing primate species, it can be quite helpful in attempting to comprehend the possible behaviour of early hominids. The social behaviour of primates is discovered amongst the investigative research of primatology, which provides evidence that the fissure between humans and other primates are beginning to decrease (McGrew, 1998: 302). This tends to result in a change of mind concerning the human conditions and the re-identification of what makes us human. The making and the regular use of tools were once considered to be what separated humans from other primates, however, primates such as Chimpanzees and Orangutans have been found making and using tools as well which keeps us wondering. What makes us human? (McGrew, 1998:310). Following these and other similar discoveries, the main decisive factor changed to the possession of culture. It became what was thought to be what separated us from other primates however; it is becoming quite clear that other primates possess culture of their own. Verification that non-human primates do in fact have culture will be achieved through discussing the meaning of culture, how and why culture has changed over evolutionary time from non-primates, to non-human primates, to early hominids to early humans (Janson, et al.,2003:57), as well as the multiple components, such as symbolism, teaching, imitation, speech and “gesture demand brain-size mediated neurological capacities”, which include fine motor skills and the ability to construct variable, complex motor acts, concepts, and objects, that will help determine whether non-human primates possess symbolic culture (Gibson, 2002: 323).
Customs and traditions of Homo sapiens species are countless, unique and easily observable behavioural practices, which can also be considered culture.(Whiten, 2003:93) It includes: the creation and use of conventional symbols, including linguistic symbols and notations; the creation and use of complex tools and other instrumental technologies; and the creation of and participation in complex social organizations and institutions. (Tomasello, 1999: 510) But the question is, do primates possess customs and traditions of their own? Or culture rather? The term culture, if used more generally, can be used to refer to the learned behaviour patterns that are more intricate, and would make it clear that we humans are not alone in generating and using culture. Particularly for this paper, the term “culture” will be used when talking about the behaviour of non-human primates. The term can be classified as “group-specific behaviour that is acquired…from social influences” (McGrew, 1998: 305), which is a broader and more working definition of culture. There have been countless differences found between “culture” possessed by humans, and “behavioural or social traditions”. The latter submits to non-human primates social “behaviours that have become habitual (with or without a social context) and…are...

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