This paper suggests (i) that while work on animal innovation has made good progress in understanding some of the proximate mechanisms and selective regimes through which innovation emerges, it has somewhat neglected the role of the social environment of innovation; a neglect manifest in the fact that innovation counts are almost always counts of resource-acquisition innovations; the invention of social tools is rarely considered. The same is true of many experimental projects, as these typically impose food acquisition tasks on their experimental subjects. (ii) That neglect is important, because innovations often pose collective action problems; the hominin species were technically innovative because they were also socially adaptable. (iii) In part for this reason, there remains a disconnect between research on hominin innovation and research on animal innovation. (iv) Finally, the paper suggests that there is something of a disconnect between the theoretical work on innovation in hominin evolution (based on theories of cultural evolution) and the experimental tradition on human innovation. That disconnect is largely due to the theoretical work retreating from strong claims about the proximate mechanisms of human cultural accumulation.
One contribution of 15 to a theme issue ‘Innovation in animals and humans: understanding the origins and development of novel and creative behaviour’.
- Accepted January 6, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.