Society and culture in the deep and open ocean – the sperm whale

von | | | 16. Januar 2001

Prof. Hal Whitehead, PhD
Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA

Vortrag am 16. Jamuar 2001
im Hörsaal des Museumsgebäudes, Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover


The sperm whale, a wide-ranging squid-eater of the deep ocean, has the largest brain on Earth. Female sperm whales form complex societies based upon stable, largely matrilineal units, within which there is communal care for the young. Units share ranges with one another and frequently interact, but seem to maintain distinctive, stable, cultures. Matrilineally-transmitted culture may explain the curiously low mtDNA diversity of the sperm whale and three other whale species with matrilineal social systems. These societies and cultures evolved in a habitat without refuges from predators, with few barriers, cheap movement, and high environmental variability over large scales.

Empfohlene Literatur

RENDELL, L. u. H. WHITEHEAD (In press):
Culture in whales and dolphins.
Behav. Brain. Sci.
(Reprint available at

A colossal convergence.
Am. Sci. 84, 278-287

WHITEHEAD, H. (1998):
Cultural selection and genetic diversity in matrilineal whales.
Science 282, 1708-1711

Homepage des Instituts: Dalhousie Whale Research