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Centre for the Coevolution of Biology and Culture


New paper by Ángel Jiménez, Joe Stubbersfield and Jamie Tehrani in Social Science & Medicine

Congratulations to CCBC members Ángel Jiménez, Joe Stubbersfield and Jamie Tehrani for their paper ‘ An experimental investigation into the transmission of antivax attitudes using a fictional health controversy’ published in Social Science & Medicine.

(6 Sep 2018)

Congratulations to Zanna Clay for her ERC Starting Grant!

Congratulations to CCBC member Zanna Clay, who has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant to study empathy development in bonobo infants as compared to human infants living in Vanuatu and Samoa.

(30 Jul 2018)

Guest speaker Dr Tom Morgan 2nd July 2018

The CCBC meeting on 2nd July will be a guest seminar by Dr Tom Morgan of Arizona State University titled:

'Experimental Human Gene-Culture Evolution in a Changing Environment'

Tom's work utilises a range of different approaches including lab experiments, developmental studies, theoretical simulations, and large-scale online experimentation to explain human cognition and behavior by integrating learning and culture into an evolutionary framework. He is the director of the Ecco Lab at ASU. 

More details about Dr Tom Morgan and the Ecco Lab can be found here:

Ecco Lab

'Experimental Human Gene-Culture Evolution in a Changing Environment'

(14 Jun 2018)

CCBC at the Applications in Cultural Evolution Conference 2018

A number of members will be representing CCBC at Applications in Cultural Evolution 2018, held at the University of Tartu June 5-8.

Good luck to Jamie Tehrani, Joe Stubbersfield, Duncan Learmouth and Gessica Martini for their talks!

See  for full details and conference programme.

(30 May 2018)

New paper by Jean-Luc Jucker and Lynda Boothroyd in Evolution & Human Behaviour

Congratulations to CCBC members Jean-Luc Jucker and Lynda Boothroyd on their paper ‘Investigating the link between television viewing and men's preferences for female body size and shape in rural Nicaragua’ published in Evolution & Human Behaviour.

(21 May 2018)

CCBC is on Twitter!

Follow @CCBC_Durham for regular updates on the centre’s activities and other cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution research related news.

(16 May 2018)

New paper by Rachel Kendal in Trends in Cognitive Science

Congratulations to CCBC member Rachel Kendal on her paper ‘ Social Learning Strategies: Bridge-Building between Fields’ published in Trends in Cognitive Science.

(11 May 2018)

Congratulations to Rachel Kendal, voted President-Elect of the Cultural Evolution Society!

Congratulations to CCBC member Rachel Kendal, who has been been voted in as president-elect of the Cultural Evolution Society!

See for full details on this society.

(6 Apr 2018)

CCBC at EHBEA 2018 conference

A number of members will be representing CCBC at EHBEA 2018 in Pécs, Hungary, organized by the Evolutionary Psychology Research Group of Pécs 4 – 7 April.

Good luck to new CCBC member Duncan Stibbard Hawkes for his talk ‘A Noisy Signal: Hadza hunting reputation and the costly signalling hypothesis’.

Also, congratulation to Sally Street for her appointment as EHBEA Early Career Officer.

See for full details and conference programme.

(4 Apr 2018)

New paper by Emma Flynn and Cameron Turner in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

Congratulations to CCBC members Emma Flynn and Cameron Turner on their paper ‘Follow (or don’t follow) the crowd: Young children’s conformity is influenced by norm domain and age’ published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

(16 Mar 2018)

New paper by Gessica Martini and Jamie Tehrani in PNAS

Congratulations to CCBC members Gessica Martini and Jamie Tehrani on their paper ‘Inferring patterns of folktale diffusion using genomic data’ published in PNAS.

(16 Oct 2017)

CCBC at CES 2017 conference

A number of members will be representing CCBC at the inaugural Cultural Evolution Society conference, held at The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History 13-15 September.

Good luck to Zanna Clay, Emma Flynn, Carmen Granito, Thom Scott-Philips, Jamie Tehrani. Rachel Kendal, Gessica Martini and Joe Stubbersfield for their talks!

See for full details and conference programme and for details about CES.

(16 Sep 2017)

New paper by Bruce Rawlings, Emma Flynn and Rachel Kendal

Congratulations to CCBC members Bruce Rawlings, Emma Flynn and Rachel Kendal on their paper ‘To Copy or To Innovate? The Role of Personality and Social Networks in Children's Learning Strategies’ published in Child Development Perspectives.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Emma Flynn, Jeremy Kendal, Bruce Rawlings and Rachel Kendal

Congratulations to CCBC members Emma Flynn, Jeremy Kendal, Bruce Rawlings and Rachel Kendal on their paper ‘Testing differential use of payoff-biased social learning strategies in children and chimpanzees' published in Proceedings B.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Jeremy Kendal and Jamie Tehrani

Congratulations to CCBC members Jeremy Kendal and Jamie Tehrani on their paper ‘Cultural complexity and demography: The case of folktales’ published in Evolution and Human Behaviour.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Jeremy Kendal, Zarja Mursic and Rachel Kendal

Congratulations to CCBC members Jeremy Kendal, Zarja Mursic and Rachel Kendal on their paper ‘Multidisciplinary exhibit design in a Science Centre: a participatory action research approach’ published in Educational Action Research.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Joe Stubbersfield, Emma Flynn and Jamie Tehrani

Congratulations to CCBC members Joe Stubbersfield, Emma Flynn and Jamie Tehrani on their paper ‘Cognitive Evolution and the Transmission of Popular Narratives: A Literature Review and Application to Urban Legends’ published in Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Joe Stubbersfield, Jamie Tehrani and Emma Flynn

Congratulations to CCBC members Joe Stubbersfield, Jamie Tehrani and Emma Flynn on their paper ‘Chicken Tumours and a Fishy Revenge: Evidence for Emotional Content Bias in the Cumulative Recall of Urban Legends’ published in the Journal of Cognition and Culture.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Kayleigh Carr and Rachel Kendal

Congratulations to CCBC members Kayleigh Carr and Rachel Kendal on their paper ‘The Cultural Capacity of Human and Nonhuman Primates: Social Learning, Innovation, and Cumulative Cultural Evolution’ published in Elsevier’s Reference Module in in Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Psychology.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Rachel Kendal

Congratulations to CCBC member Rachel Kendal on her paper ‘Selective copying of the majority suggests children are broadly “optimal‐” rather than “over‐” imitators’ published in Developmental Science.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Rob Barton

Congratulations to CCBC member Rob Barton on his paper ‘Re-evaluating the link between brain size and behavioural ecology in primates’ published in Proceedings B.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Rob Barton and Lynda Boothroyd

Congratulations to CCBC members Rob Barton and Lynda Boothroyd on their paper ‘Nutritional status and the influence of TV consumption on female body size ideals in populations recently exposed to the media’ published in Scientific Reports.

(16 May 2017)

New paper by Thom Scott-Phillips and Rob Barton

Congratulations to CCBC members Thom Scott-Phillips and Rob Barton on their paper 'General intelligence does not help us understand cognitive evolution' published in Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

(11 May 2017)

CCBC at EHBEA 2017 Conference

A number of members will be representing CCBC at EHBEA 2017, held at École Normale Supérieur 6-8 April.

Good luck to Lauren Scanlon, Jeremy Kendal, Jamie Tehrani, Dugald Foster, Rachel Kendal, Zarja Mursic and Carmen Granito for their talks and posters!

See for full details and conference programme.

(7 Apr 2017)

Lectureship in Cognition and Culture

New Lecturer position in Cognition and Culture in Durham Anthropology Department

(11 Oct 2016)

Michaelmas meetings 2016

We're meeting in D104, on Thursday 29th September, 4-5pm followed by the pub, and thereafter every other week. Our meetings are for discussing the literature, new research ideas and discussing in progress research projects. If you'd like to join, please contact Jeremy Kendal.

(29 Sep 2016)

Autumn 2015 meetings

We shall be meeting every other Wednesday, 1-2pm during the Michaelmas term.

The first meeting is 14th October 2015 in D217 (Dawson building). The location of future meetings will be emailed.

If you'd like to attend our discussions of papers and research projects, please contact

(14 Oct 2015)

Seminar: Stefaan Blancke, Ghent University)

Welcome to Stefaan Blancke from Ghent University, who will be giving a seminar entitled

"Towards an epidemiology of scientific concepts"

Wed 14th October 2015, D217.

(14 Oct 2015)

Durham International Research Fellowships

CCBC are looking to support Durham International Research Fellowhip applications. If you'd like to spend time in Durham collaborating with academics in CCBC, please contact the academic directly, and see the following application instructions:


(21 Sep 2015)

Animal Minds Symposium

Animal Minds Symposium in Durham 18-20th April 2016

(18 Jun 2015)

CCBC Summer Workshop 2015

At this year's summer workshop (23rd June 2015) CCBC are challenged with writing a collaborative grant proposal in a day - good luck to all involved!

(19 May 2015)

Easter Term meetings

Meetings will take place every other week, starting on 28th April 2015, 1-2pm, usually in the Anthropology Seminar Room. 

Join the email list (ask for regular updates on meetings.

(22 Apr 2015) » More about Easter Term meetings

Epiphany term meetings

CCBC events for Epiphany term 2015:

2-3pm Jan 22nd - TBA (Room: PCL056)

2-3pm Feb 5th - Gerald Moore (Room: PCL056; Host: Jamie Tehrani; Talk title TBA)

2-3pm Feb 19th - TBA (Room: PCL056)

2-3pm Mar 5th - David Geary, University of Missouri (Room: PCL051; Host: Alex Mesoudi; Talk title TBA)

(22 Apr 2015)

Monica Tamariz seminar

Welcome to Monica Tamariz, Edinburgh University, who will be giving a CCBC talk at 2pm, 10th July 2014, in the Anthropology Seminar Room on:

"A replication and emergence model of cultural transmission" 

(10 Jul 2014)

Ken Aoki Seminar

Ken Aoki, Meiji University, Japan, is giving a CCBC seminar on FRIDAY 20th June, 12-1pm in the Anthropology Seminar room. His talk is entitled:

"Modeling cultural evolution during the Palaeolithic."

(12 Jun 2014)

Alberto Acerbi seminar

Thanks Alberto for a great talk on the effects of biases in cultural transmission on turnover rates - Hope you enjoyed Durham and that you visit us again soon!

(29 May 2014)

Summer CCBC Workshop 2014

This year's 'summer' workshop (assuming it stops raining!) is a joint affair hosted by our friends in the Edinburgh Linguistics and English Language Group, 2-3rd June 2014.

(28 May 2014)

CCBC research features in BBC 'Wild Brazil' series

Durham anthropologists Camila Coelho Dr Rachel Kendal's research (with Prof Edu Ottoni, Sao Paulo University) on the spread of novel foraging information through groups of capuchin monkeys is featured in the BBC's new "Wild Brazil" television series.
The programme airs on BBC2 in the UK at 9pm on 14-16th January 2014. Click here for a sneak preview of the series

(13 Jan 2014)

Gema Martin-Ordas Visit

Thanks to Gema Martin-Ordas for visiting and for her seminar on Episodic and semantic memory in the comparative arena: looking at the future.

(19 Dec 2013)

Luc-Alain Giraldeau Seminar

Welcoming Luc-Alain from UQ Montréal

His talk is entitled: "Animals Playing Game Theory: Choice in a Frequency-dependent World". Wednesday 4th December: PCL048 (Hogan Lovells lecture theatre)

(27 Nov 2013)

ESRC Recognised MA in Research Methods with a Specialisation in Cultural Evolution

This pathway is based upon two modules from the MSc in Evolutionary Anthropology:

(i) Cultural Evolution is an intensive lecture and seminar based module introducing the diverse approaches within, and applications of, cultural evolution,

(i) Evolutionary Theory is an intensive lecture and seminar based module introducing a wide variety of evolutionary concepts.

In addition, due to the interdisciplinary nature of cultural evolution, and its potential applications, optional modules (30 credits) are chosen from the Masters programmes in Evolutionary Anthropology (Evolutionary Psychology; Primate Behaviour; Palaeoanthropology & Palaeoecology – all 15 credits), Medical Anthropology (Evolutionary Perspectives on Western Disease; Evolutionary Perspectives on Reproduction and Infant Health; Evolutionary and Ecological Health Topics – all 15 credits) and Socio-cultural Anthropology (Key Issues in Sociocultural Anthropology– 30 credits).

A Research Dissertation (60 credits) allows students to implement their practical and theoretical skills in anthropological research methods.

(4 Nov 2013)

Cultural Evolution and Science Communication Project

Please do get in contact with Rachel Kendal if you would be interested in undertaking an interdisciplinary project involving cultural evolution and science communication. The project integrates investigation of innovation and social learning in children with an assessment of a new style of museum gallery which aims to encourage interest in science. This project is well developed, though may be tailored to the specific interests of the chosen student, and is in collaboration with the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

(25 Sep 2013)

Autumn 2013 Meetings

CCBC meetings are recommencing after the summer break, with the first on Wednesday 2nd October, Rm. 221, Dawson Building at 12-1. Subsequent meetings will be every other week at the same time.

Typically, we discuss recent papers relating to cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution, grant ideas, or feedback on research in progress. New members welcome - contact Jeremy Kendal for more information.

(16 Sep 2013)

Sara Silva's Seminar

Thanks to Sara Silva (from the New University of Lisbon) for visiting our centre. On the 20th June (1pm, seminar room), she is talking about the work she's been doing with Jamie Tehrani on the cultural evolution of fairy tales.

(20 Jun 2013)

CCBC Summer Workshop 2013

This year's workshop will involve presentation and development of new research ideas for collaboration between CCBC members. The workshop is on Monday 8th July 2013. CCBC members that would like to attend should contact Jeremy Kendal.

(22 Mar 2013)

Jamie Tehrani Seminar: Time as a Misty Window Seminar - Fairy Tales and Phylogenetics

23rd January 2013, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study

(22 Jan 2013)

Epiphany Term Meetings

Happy New Year to you all - this term we'll be meeting every other Friday, starting on the 18th January 2013, at 1-2pm in the Anthropology Seminar Room, Dawson Building.

If you'd like to find out more about the meetings, email Jeremy Kendal.

(8 Jan 2013)

Journal Club, Autumn Term 2012

CCBC journal club will be starting up again in Teaching Week 1, on ***Tuesday 9th October, 12-1pm*** in the Birley Room, Dawson Building, and thereafter every other week at the same time. So do come along if you'd like to discuss empirical and theoretical papers relating to social learning, cultural evolution and gene-culture coevolution (and related topics!). Typically, we take turns to suggest a paper to discuss in the proceeding meeting. All members/non-members welcome.

NOTE: session on 6th Nov, is joint with EARG, discussing the question of causality (ultimate, proximal, reciprocal), and is at 1pm.

(25 Sep 2012)

Welcome to Alex Mesoudi

We are very pleased that Alex has joined the Anthropology department and CCBC, taking up a readership. Alex's website is here.

(30 Aug 2012)

Welcome to Thom Scott-Phillips

Thom is taking up an Addison Wheeler Fellowhip in the Department of Anthropology - we look forward to working with him!

See his research interests here

(24 May 2012)

CCBC Public Seminar Series

CCBC members are giving a public seminar series at the Centre for Life in Newcastle during May 2012. Do sign up to attend this introduction to some of our research interests.

(30 Mar 2012)

Exaptation Conference

Register for this interdisciplinary conference, 19-20th March 2012, in association with the IAS and CCBC. Visiting speakers include Prof. Mike O’Brien (University of Missouri), Prof. Paolo Saviotti (Université Pierre Mendès-France, Grenoble), and Prof. Alex Bentley (Bristol University).

(1 Mar 2012)

Workshop: Tipping points and the spread of buzzwords, labels and ideas

2-3rd July 2012, Durham Universityto

I would like to invite you to give a paper at the diffusion of ideas, labels and buzzwords conference (see attached flyer) which will be held on 2-3 July 2012 in Durham. This conference is the launch event for a Leverhulme project which is looking at tipping points and the agency in metaphors, but the intention is that the conference will deal with a range of broader issues of how ideas diffuse and spread through populations. The conference will be small and is by necessity invite only (there will be no general call for papers) - so if you have any colleagues whom you work with or might fit with the conference, please pass their names and contact details along, and we will do our best to invite them as well, constraints allowing. Following the conference, depending on the contributions, I would anticipate publishing an edited volume of the interdisciplinary papers. The conference will begin in the morning on Monday 2 July, ending in the afternoon on the Tuesday 3 July. We can offer you accommodation, as well as the cost of a standard class return rail ticket to Durham. There will be a conference dinner on the evening of 2 July. There is no conference fee. We have set the deadline for abstracts at 2 April 2012, but if you plan to attend can you send Pojanath Bhatanacharoen an indication of your intention as soon as you can - this will help us with planning and organization.

(20 Feb 2012)

Rachel Kendal Seminar

Rachel will be giving a seminar on Wednesday 29th Feb, 1pm in the Birley Room, Dawson Building, on "Social Learning Strategies and Cumulative Cultural Evolution"

All Welcome.

(16 Feb 2012)

Royal Society - Newton International Fellowships

Post-doc opportunity to work with CCBC:

This scheme enables early-stage postdoctoral researchers from all over the world to work at UK research institutions for a period of two years. Funding consists of £24,000 per annum for subsistence costs, up to £8,000 per annum for research expenses and a one-off payment of up to £2,000 for relocation costs. The two-year Fellowships cover the broad range of the physical, natural or social sciences or humanities. Deadline: 16 April 2012

(16 Feb 2012)

Discussion Group

This term, discussion groups will be every other Wednesday, starting 1pm, 1st Feb 2012 in the anthropology common room. If you'd like to attend, please email Jeremy Kendal.

(23 Jan 2012)

EHBEA Conference Update

The European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association conference programme is now available on the conference website.

Durham University member reduced registration rates available. The conference is being hosted by Durham University and is running from 25-28th March 2012.

(7 Nov 2011)

Exaptation, Uncertainty and Technological Change

Two-day Seminar

11th-12thFebruary 2012 (Saturday and Sunday) Anthropology Seminar Room (Dawson 104). A 2 day inter-departmental workshop in which representatives from interested departments discuss the concept of exaptation and its application in their fields in a relatively informal fashion, presenting initial position papers for discussion. This workshop will follow up issues raised at a preliminary meeting held during the initial planning stage for events to take place during 2012-13. Participating departments will include: Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Business School and Education, with the possibility of contributions from other schools and departments, including Archaeology, Engineering and Medicine.

Two-day Conference

19th- 20th March (Monday and Tuesday) Dawson Lecture Theatre D 110. A 2 day conference at which departments will present papers suitable for publication stating the contribution their discipline can make to the study of exaptation. Invited speakers will respond with their own assessment of the current state and future prospects for the inter-disciplinary study of exaptation. Departmental papers will be circulated in advance to visiting speakers. Visitors who have confirmed attendance include Prof. Mike O’Brien (University of Missouri), Prof. Paolo Saviotti (Université Pierre Mendès-France, Grenoble), and Prof. Alex Bentley (Bristol University).

Exaptation, Uncertainty and Technological Change

Exaptation, a concept that can be defined as characters, evolved for other usages (or for no function at all), and later “coopted” for their current role & hellip (Gould and Vrba 1982), is one of the most important yet little studied mechanisms in the evolution of species, ecosystems and technologies. Exaptation arises from the indefinite, but rarely explicit, range of potential functions of existing objects/ideas (D’Arcy Thompson, 1942). Feathers, for example, were probably selected for thermal insulation and their use in flight was therefore an exaptation. Microwave ovens certainly originated as radar magnetrons. Principles of social organisation such as producer co-operatives have been applied to numerous resources beyond those for which they were first devised.

While the parallels and differences between genetic and cultural evolution have been debated since the start of the 20th century, rigorous analysis only began in the 1970s. Over the past thirty years techniques have been increasingly refined in archaeology, evolutionary psychology and economics but, as yet, they have not been applied to the phenomenon of exaptation. The dynamics of co-evolving technologies, markets and societies are driven by recombinant and exaptive innovation mechanisms. We need to understand how the leap to new function – prior to the adaptational trajectory – can be conceptualized and modelled; the transfer of known techniques and materials to new contexts can effect substantial savings and eliminate risks.

Durham is well-placed to deliver such a programme of research, since an interest in promoting interdisciplinary work in evolutionary processes already exists in Biological Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, Education, and the Business School. In particular, the team are keen to explore the following issues: taxonomy, and how terms are used in different subjects; modelling fitness landscapes in the biological and social sciences; comparability of economic/social systems and natural ecosystems; clarifying what qualifies as a genuine exaptation in social organisation; establishing what kind of benefits does cultural exaptation confer, since ‘adaptive’ implies some fitness advantage to the user. The entity must survive and reproduce/be transmitted. What is required to achieve this (in biology: mating, offspring, survival?). What variables affect cultural ‘fitness’?

The project team will address these issues with the support of two IAS Fellows: the economist, Professor Pier Paolo Saviotti and the anthropologist, Professor Michael J O’Brien. The IAS is also supporting a programme of weekly inter-departmental seminars and a conference, which will culminate in the publication of an edited volume.


  1. Definite: an edited volume on exaptation, to be submitted to Cambridge University Press or Routledge.
  2. Probable: interdisciplinary research grant applications.

The seminar and the conference are open to students and academics, but to register and request further information, please contact Professor Bob Layton.

This programme is organised in association with the IAS and the University’s Centre for the Co-evolution of Biology and Culture (CCBC).

(24 Aug 2011)

EHBEA 2012 at Durham

CCBC members are organising the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) annual conference, 25-28th March 2012.

Plenary speakers, sponsored by the British Academy, will be:

  • Leslie Aiello, President of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological research
  • Stuart West, Prof. of evolutionary biology at the University of Oxford
  • Hanna Kokko, Prof. of evolutionary ecology at Australian National University
  • Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Prof. of human behavioural ecology at UC Davis
  • Ian Penton-Voak, Reader in evolutionary psychology at the University of Bristol
  • Simon Kirby, Prof. of language evolution at the University of Edinburgh

& there'll be a conference banquet in Durham Castle, so hope to see you there!

(12 Jul 2011)

Farewell to Alex

Congratulations to Alex Bentley as he takes up his chair of Archaeology at the University of Bristol. We wish him well in his new post, and hope he makes regular visits back to Durham!

(12 Jul 2011)

Herding, Innovations and Tipping Points in Financial Systems

CCBC is co-sponsoring this workshop as part of the Leverhulme Tipping Points grant.

When: 15 July 2011, 08:45 to 17:45
Where: Lindisfarne Suite, St Aidan's College, Durham University. Contact: Alex Bentley

(12 Jul 2011)

Junior Research Fellowship Scheme

1-3 year fellowships available at post-doctoral level. If you'd like to work with CCBC researchers and in affiliation with the Institute of Advance Study, email Jeremy Kendal.

(12 Jul 2011)

MSc in Evolutionary Anthropology

This course has been revised and updated to include exciting new modules. Optional modules are as follows:

  • Cultural Evolution
  • Palaeoanthropology and Palaeoecology
  • Primate Behaviour
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Evolutionary Perspectives on Western Diseases
  • Evolutionary Perspectives on Reproductive and Infant Health
  • Evolutionary Demography
  • Evolutionary and Ecological Health Topics

To sign up, contact

(12 Jul 2011)

PhD position – Social Learning & Science Communication

Applicants are sought for a PhD position, to commence early October 2011, based in the Department of Anthropology, University of Durham and the Centre for Life, Newcastle. Applications - to include a CV and cover letter - must be received by Wednesday 3rd August via email to Rachel Kendal. Please also arrange for 2 academic references to be sent to the same email address by the deadline or as soon as possible thereafter.

(12 Jul 2011)