The opening of milk bottles by birds: Evidence for accelerating learning rates, but against the wave-of-advance model of cultural transmission

  title={The opening of milk bottles by birds: Evidence for accelerating learning rates, but against the wave-of-advance model of cultural transmission},
  author={Louis Lefebvre},
  journal={Behavioural Processes},
  • L. Lefebvre
  • Published 1 May 1995
  • Medicine, Psychology
  • Behavioural Processes
One of the most widely cited cases of cultural transmission in animals is the opening of milk bottles by British birds. Bottle opening was first reported in Swaythling in 1921 and its spread from that date to 1947 was mapped by Fisher and Hinde (1949). Using data from Fisher and Hinde, this paper tests two quantitative models of cultural transmission: (1) the logistic model describing the cumulative number of bottle opening sites in the Belfast area and in the whole of the UK, and (2) the… Expand
Culture and cultural evolution in birds: a review of the evidence
Social learning from the observation of knowledgeable individuals can allow behaviours, skills and techniques to spread across populations and transmit between generations, potentially leading toExpand
Milk bottles revisited: social learning and individual variation in the blue tit, Cyanistes caeruleus
Blue tits are famous for the ‘milk bottle’ innovation, which emerged at numerous sites across Britain in the early 20th century. However, overall we still know little about the factors that foster orExpand
The origin and spread of innovations in starlings
There are numerous reports of novel learned behaviour patterns in animal populations, yet the factors influencing the invention and spread of these innovations remain poorly understood. Here weExpand
Diffusion of foraging innovations in the guppy
A striking sex difference is found, with novel foraging information spreading at a significantly faster rate through subgroups of females than of males, and it is suggested that information may diffuse in a similar nonrandom or 'directed' manner through many natural populations of animals. Expand
Feeding innovations and forebrain size in birds
The study confirms predicted trends linking opportunism, brain size and rate of structural evolution and suggests that innovation rate in the field may be a useful measure of behavioural plasticity. Expand
Learning and Cultural Transmission in Chaffinch Song
Abstract The degree to which culture and cultural evolution are unique to humans has been a subject of continuous debate in the biological and social sciences. Bird song provides one of the mostExpand
Food cleaning in gorillas: Social learning is a possibility but not a necessity
It is concluded that social learning is unlikely to play a central role in the emergence of the food cleaning behavioural form in Western lowland gorillas; instead, placing a greater emphasis on individual learning of food cleaning’s behavioural form. Expand
Using Models of Social Transmission to Examine the Spread of Longline Depredation Behavior among Sperm Whales in the Gulf of Alaska
How changes in human activities in the region have created a situation in which there is spatial-temporal overlap with foraging sperm whales, likely influencing when and how the behavior spread among the population is discussed. Expand
Task-Dependent Differences in Learning by Subordinate and Dominant Wild Arabian Babblers
Differences in learning between dominants and subordinates may be task-specific, which may represent different cognitive strategies: subordinates may explore a more diverse range of foraging opportunities, while dominants may be better at generalizing from familiar tasks to similar ones. Expand
Social learning through associative processes: a computational theory
The explorations show that, when guided by genetic predispositions, associative processes can give rise to a wide variety of social learning phenomena, such as stimulus and local enhancement, contextual imitation and simple production imitation, observational conditioning, and social and response facilitation. Expand


Cultural transmission in pigeons is affected by the number of tutors and bystanders present
Abstract Abstract. The basic assumption of the logistic contagion model of cultural transmission is that the rate of adoption of innovations increases with the number of knowledgeable tutors and theExpand
Imitation in Rats: Initial Responding and Transfer Evidence
In two experiments, rats observed a conspecific demonstrator pushing a single manipulandum, a joystick, to the right or to the left for food reward before being given access to the joystick, for theExpand
Social learning : psychological and biological perspectives
Contents: Part I:Social Learnlng: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. B.G. Galef, Jr., Imitation in Animals: History, Definition, and Interpretation of Data from the Psychological Laboratory. R.Expand
Cultural transmission and evolution: a quantitative approach.
A mathematical theory of the non-genetic transmission of cultural traits is developed that provides a framework for future investigations in quantitative social and anthropological science and concludes that cultural transmission is an essential factor in the study of cultural change. Expand
Avian Movement Imitation and a New Form of Mimicry: Tracing the Evolution of a Complex Form of Learning
Hierarchical relationships and phylogenetic patterns of occurrence suggest that imitative learning in birds may have evolved through the sequence: song/call learning → vocal mimicry → non-vocal mimicry→ movement imitation. Expand
Genetic evidence for the spread of agriculture in Europe by demic diffusion
Findings support the hypothesis of Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza and invite further investigation into Renfrew's hypothesis on the origin of the Indo-European languages. Expand
Birds, behavior, and anatomical evolution.
The hypothesis that in higher vertebrates, behavior, rather than environmental change, is the major driving force for evolution at the organismal level is advanced and predicts accelerated anatomical evolution in species composed of numerous mobile individuals with the dual capacity for behavioral innovation and social propagation of new habits. Expand
Ethology: The Mechanisms and Evolution of Behavior
This book develops this theme by looking first at traditional ethology to establish familiarity with the models which will be used to examine neural mechanisms, social behavior and species interactions, and finally the authors' own species. Expand
Evidence for acquisition of a novel feeding behaviour: lobtail feeding in humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae
It is hypothesized that this behaviour was initiated as whales switched from feeding on herring to sand lance, and has spread through cultural transmission, as well as among young post-weaning animals. Expand
“Language” and intelligence in monkeys and apes: Comparative developmental perspectives on ape “language”
List of contributors Foreword Howard E. Gruber Preface Acknowledgements 1. Theoretical frameworks for comparative developmental studies Sue Taylor Parker, Bernard Baars and Kathleen Rita Gibson 2.Expand