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The second inheritance system of chimpanzees and humans


Half a century of dedicated field research has brought us from ignorance of our closest relatives to the discovery that chimpanzee communities resemble human cultures in possessing suites of local traditions that uniquely identify them. The collaborative effort required to establish this picture parallels the one set up to sequence the chimpanzee genome, and has revealed a complex social inheritance system that complements the genetic picture we are now developing.

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Figure 1: The cultures of wild chimpanzees.


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The author was supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. I am grateful to V. Horner, W. C. McGrew, D. Morgan and M. Nakamura for comments on the manuscript, and to S. Smart and J. Allen for image processing.

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Correspondence to Andrew Whiten.

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Whiten, A. The second inheritance system of chimpanzees and humans. Nature 437, 52–55 (2005).

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