Humans and other animals: The tangled web of culture

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Wednesday 26 November

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Bonobo fishing for termites in San Diego Zoo

    Credit: Mike R via Wikimedia Commons
  • Man rowing with his feet at Inle Lake, Myanmar

    Fisherman on Inle Lake, Myanmar

    Credit: Deborah Waller


Standard £12

Concession £8

Associate £6

Free to Members, Faraday Members and Fellows

Event description

Are humans unique in their diverse and wide-ranging cultures? How much of the cultural difference we see can be attributed to the local environment? And what impact can the way societies behave have on the world around them?

Join a panel of experts to discuss how the environment might drive cultural evolution, what impact culture has on the environment, and whether humans are the only species with distinct cultures.

About the speakers

Andrew Whiten is Wardlaw Professor in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews and is the UK’s leading expert on non-human cultures. His most recent research focuses on social learning, traditions in humans and non-human primates with behavioural experiments.

Gaia Vince is a British science writer with experience in editing and writing for both science journals and popular science magazines, including Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, and The Guardian. She has recently finished a trip around the world while writing a book called ‘Adventures In The Anthropocene’ in which she writes about the human-changed planet, human societies, ecosystems and our relationship with the natural world. 

Ruth Mace is Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology in the Human Evolutionary Ecology Group at UCL, exploring human behaviour and life history as adaptations to local environments, including cultural evolution. Areas of interest include human reproductive scheduling, parental investment, human marriage, and the evolution of social institutions.


This event will be filmed and available on the Ri Channel soon after the it has finished. Many Ri events are already available to watch.

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