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We propose a conceptual model that maps the causal pathways relating biological evolution to cultural change. It builds on conventional evolutionary theory by placing emphasis on the capacity of organisms to modify sources of natural selection in their environment (niche construction) and by broadening the evolutionary dynamic to incorporate ontogenetic and(More)
Fifty years ago, Ernst Mayr published a hugely influential paper on the nature of causation in biology, in which he distinguished between proximate and ultimate causes. Mayr equated proximate causation with immediate factors (for example, physiology) and ultimate causation with evolutionary explanations (for example, natural selection). He argued that(More)
There are consistent individual differences in human intelligence, attributable to a single 'general intelligence' factor, g. The evolutionary basis of g and its links to social learning and culture remain controversial. Conflicting hypotheses regard primate cognition as divided into specialized, independently evolving modules versus a single general(More)
Despite considerable current interest in the evolution of intelligence, the intuitively appealing notion that brain volume and "intelligence" are linked remains untested. Here, we use ecologically relevant measures of cognitive ability, the reported incidence of behavioral innovation, social learning, and tool use, to show that brain size and cognitive(More)
Social learning (learning through observation or interaction with other individuals) is widespread in nature and is central to the remarkable success of humanity, yet it remains unclear why copying is profitable and how to copy most effectively. To address these questions, we organized a computer tournament in which entrants submitted strategies specifying(More)
Gene-culture coevolutionary theory is a branch of theoretical population genetics that models the transmission of genes and cultural traits from one generation to the next, exploring how they interact. These models have been employed to examine the adaptive advantages of learning and culture, to investigate the forces of cultural change, to partition the(More)
The degree to which animals use public and private sources of information has important implications for research in both evolutionary ecology and cultural evolution. While researchers are increasingly interested in the factors that lead individuals to vary in the manner in which they use different sources of information, to date little is known about how(More)
Scientific activities take place within the structured sets of ideas and assumptions that define a field and its practices. The conceptual framework of evolutionary biology emerged with the Modern Synthesis in the early twentieth century and has since expanded into a highly successful research program to explore the processes of diversification and(More)
Teaching, alongside imitation, is widely thought to underlie the success of humanity by allowing high-fidelity transmission of information, skills, and technology between individuals, facilitating both cumulative knowledge gain and normative culture. Yet, it remains a mystery why teaching should be widespread in human societies but extremely rare in other(More)
In 1948, Angus J. Bateman reported a stronger relationship between mating and reproductive success in male fruit flies compared with females, and concluded that selection should universally favour 'an undiscriminating eagerness in the males and a discriminating passivity in the females' to obtain mates. The conventional view of promiscuous, undiscriminating(More)