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Cultural Evolution

All you need to know about Cultural Evolution

Posted by Melanie Burns on
All you need to know about Cultural Evolution

Cultural evolution is also known as social cultural evolution which is the development of one or more cultures from simpler to more complex form. The general mark on modern theories of cultural evolution is their insistence of cultural inheritance. Members of our species are able to survive in part of habitat and technology which are maintained by learning and discoveries made from others. The main question here is how theories of cultural evolution should be related to the traditional understanding of organic evolution. Here is all you need to understand about cultural evolution.

What is culture?

According to Richerson culture is mostly the information in brain. Cultural inheritance is understood as the transmission of brain information from person to next. He argues that there is no similarity in gene and cultural variant but insists that cultural variant must be gene like to carry cultural information. To understand culture better we have define information which simply means the knowledge stored in books but the definition differs from person to person. Although the precise details are yet to be ironed out research shows that cultural evolution is possible.

Culture as a product of biology

Nature and biology share a complex relationship .Research shows that culture can influence human evolution. A good example is the rapid spread of a gene that produces a protein which allows humans to digest lactose. Change in culture greatly affected human genetics. Culture ranges from micro-level of interpersonal interactions to the macro-level of the influence on entire societies.

Nonhuman animal cultural evolution

There is an existence of some degree of culture in nonhuman species. The songs of a certain species of birds and tool use in some primates vary from one group to group within the same species. A good example is how group macaques of Koshima Island began to use the sea for washing instead of the stream and preferring the taste of the salt water. This shows how innovation created behaviorally distinct population within the same species. Cultural evolution on nonhuman is under researched and unclear on how observational learning is. Further work will establish the extent on which we may speak about cultural evolutionary processes in nonhuman species.

Memes theory

Memes theory draws a very strong analogy between evolution at cultural level and biological evolution. Dawkins argues that in standard biological models of evolution genes are the relevant replicators. This is because genes make copies of themselves and this explains why offspring organisms resemble their parents. Incase culture evolves it is important to find a form of cultural replicator which explains cultural inheritance. Some exemplary memes are ideas, ways of making pots and clothe fashion.

Cultural evolutionary theory

Cultural inheritance is an important factor in explaining how species has changed over time. Change in culture brings about alterations to the environment and this affects how genes act and how natural selection pressure acts on genes. Cultural evolutionary theory provides insight into the historical pattern of cultural change in the same way that evolutionary biological tools have reticulated history of life. Culture is important since it highly affects human evolution in positive manner.


Natural selection acting on gene variation can cause disposition to learn from non-kin and this can cause maladaptive traits. This is considered as genetically inherited adoptions by cultural evolutionists. This was produced in response to the problems faced by our earlier ancestors. Cultural evolution includes the inheritance of habits from group to group within species. This contributes to human evolution for example in the ability of species capacity to acquire language.