Monster Seminar JAM - In the Company of Crows and Ravens: Coevolution of Animal and Human Culture
Dr. John Marzluff, University of Washington
Since the dawn of human time, people have been in the company of ravens and crows (birds of genus Corvus). People probably first encountered these abundant, bold, and wily scavengers at shared feeding locations (e.g., animal kills, butchering places, fishing sites), as occurs today. Early hunters and gatherers noticed these birds and celebrated them in legends and myths worldwide. Ancient spiritual connections are evident on the cave walls of Lascaux, where a crow-headed man has been interpreted as the soul of a fallen hunter. The increasingly agrarian, and currently urban, ways of people allowed extensive contact with nearly all members of the genus Corvus from Arctic to Australian landscapes. This enduring and widespread interaction stimulated human language, music, art, religion, and pop culture. I propose that this influence has been mutual and likely when social animals like people and corvids interact. I argue that as human culture evolved in response to life with crows and ravens, so too did Corvus culture evolve in response to life with people. This allows me to extend the concept of coevolution beyond genetic to include cultural traits and identify an important service of biological diversity to people-cultural stimulation.
Date and Time:
February 2, 2006,
11:00 am - 12:30 pm