According to a new study, changes in cultural lifestyle lead to evolutionary adjustments more often than previously thought.
One of the best examples of cultural change with the impact of evolution is the development of dairy farms. Increasing animal milk production for human consumption has triggered genetic changes in milk drinks.
Genes responsible for lactose tolerance are common in populations where milk consumption is widespread. The same gene is rare in non-fungal cultures.
The authors of a new study on the subject, published this week in Nature Communications, found that co-evolution of gene culture did not occur only in humans. Cultural changes, say scientists, also evoke evolutionary changes in other animals, including killer whales.
Researchers have found that various killer whale clones have adapted the unique jaw and digestive system to help them capture, process and absorb various types of prey.
Hunting strategies and prey preferences for older killer whales are being taught to the next generation. As a result, cultural clans formed between clans. These different nutritional preferences evoke evolutionary changes in whales, as in humans.
Scientists suspect that the effects of evolution are large enough to cause species differences. Because of cultural differences between clans, oxen can be divided into various species.
Researchers argue that cultural differences can also cause brain evolution. Orangutans in Sumatra, which have greater cultural diversity, have brains that are bigger and smarter than Bornean orangutans.
The new study found that co-evolution of gene culture is most prevalent in birds, dolphins, whales and primates.
“There is even evidence that the cultural traditions of one species can trigger the evolution of other species,” said Andrew Whitten, a professor of psychology and neurology at the University of St. Andrews. “For example, fishermen learn to recognize cuckoo as parasites by guarding other bird alarm calls, which means natural selection prefers cuckoo with unusual feather patterns.”