Luke Rendell and Hall Whitehead are the authors of this article. Rendell is a Ph.D. student at the Dalhouise Univesity. His focus is in cetacean behavior and acoustic communications. Whitehead is a professor of biology at the same university and has written several papers mostly on the behavior, ecology and conservation of whales. He is also the coordinator of field studies of dolphins and whales.
I, therefore, offer a summary of the article, give my opinion and connect the article to the question “is culture unique to humans?’
Rendell and Whitehead describe recent research findings on the evidence of cultural transmission among cetaceans’ i.e. sperm whales and dolphins (p. 311). They focused their research on cetaceans because they displayed stable cultures and factors that facilitated cultural development (p. 323). They based their research on ethnographic data (p. 311). They identified imitation and observation as the methods used in cultural transmission among cetaceans (p. 316). Finally, they pointed out that field research studies should be carried to further test this phenomenon (Rendell & Whitehead 2001)
Cultural transmission is not a cultural phenomenon unique to human beings. Some animals have their own culture and pass it to from one generation to the next. Cultural transmission in animals may not be as apparent in animals as that in human beings, but it still exists. Adjusting our definitions of culture can put in a better position to identify it among non-human species
The article, therefore, goes to prove that the culture is not unique to humans. The fact that the cetaceans have the ability to form their own culture and transmit the same to others; therefore answers the question of whether culture is unique to humans. Humans apply the same techniques as cetaceans in cultural transmissions. These methods though may not be applied in a similar manner among non-humans.
Rendell, L and Whitehead. (2001). Behavioral and Brain Science: Culture in whales and dolphins, 24,311- 326