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Anthropology
Languages and Cultures

In what way does culture distinguishes the behavior of human beings from animals?

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June 02, 2013 3:05AM

Culture in and of itself is not a behavior specific to humans. Many animals display varying levels of culture. Take for instance pods of Orca, also known as the killer whale. Researchers have observed pods in ranged environments all over the world practicing food specific hunting practices (i.e. blowing air bubbles under sting rays to tickle them off the sea floor, purposefully beaching themselves to grab sea lions from the shore, or attacking great white sharks by charging them down and striking from above at the last minute) these practices are taught to members of the pod and passed down generation to generation; this is culture, the expansion of individual knowledge and physical abilities through communication and education via other members of the species.

Human Culture is distinct from animal culture because of its level of complexity. We have developed a "high culture," music, art, literature, etc. These socio-cultural formations serve no practical purpose and have not been adopted by animal cultures which tend to forward information to younger generations on a need to know basis.