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Thread: Culture May Be Encoded in DNA

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    Culture May Be Encoded in DNA

    Culture May Be Encoded in DNA

    Knowledge is passed down directly from generation to generation in the animal kingdom as parents teach their children the things they will need to survive. But a new study has found that, even when the chain is broken, nature sometimes finds a way.

    Zebra finches, which normally learn their complex courtship songs from their fathers, spontaneously developed the same songs all on their own after only a few generations.

    “We found that in this case, the culture was pretty much encoded in the genome,” said Partha Mitra of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, co-author of a study in Nature on Sunday.

    Birds transmit their songs through social interactions, as humans do for languages, dances, cuisine and other cultural elements. Though birds and humans have clearly followed different evolutionary paths, birdsong culture can still inform theories of human culture.

    Normally, male finches learn their complex courtship songs (MP3) from their uncles and fathers. But if there are no vocal role models around, the song will deviate from the traditional song and be harsh to female finch ears (MP3). Each bird, then, must learn from his father or uncles, as they learned from their fathers, and so on — but this can only take us so far down the lineage.

    “It’s the classic ‘chicken and the egg’ puzzle,” Mitra said. “Learning may explain how the son copies its father’s song, but it doesn’t explain the origin of the father’s song.”

    Mitra’s team wanted to find out what would happen if an isolated bird raised his own colony. As expected, birds raised in soundproof boxes grew up to sing cacophonous songs.

    But then scientists let the isolated birds give voice lessons to a new round of hatchlings. They found that the young males imitated the songs — but they tweaked them slightly, bringing the structure closer to that of songs sung in the wild. When these birds grew up and became tutors, their pupils’ song continue to conform, with tweaks.

    After three to four generations, the teachers were producing strapping young finches that belted out normal-sounding songs.
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    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...ngbirdculture/

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    Thanks. This confirms something I have stated about human culture:

    Basically your people's culture is something you yourself would invent if you were able to live 1,000 years. It is based on the experiences of people like you and their conclusions. When you learn the culture of your own people you are learning about a part of yourself.

    I discovered that my natural instincts, thoughts, inclinations etc. seem to conform almost exactly to old Aryan pagan behavior, beliefs etc. whether it be Greek, Roman or Nordic. However living in Christian culture, Jewish culture, Communist culture, African American etc. for me its like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. It goes against my own inborn nature, instincts, observations etc. Whereas when I learn from my own culture its like wow that is really eye opening- that's a conclusion I would have come to if I would have studied that or experienced this. I would probably have created a rituals something like that etc. We stand on our ancestors shoulders.

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