Cover image for Tree of origin : what primate behavior can tell us about human social evolution
Tree of origin : what primate behavior can tell us about human social evolution
Waal, F. B. M. de (Frans B. M.), 1948-
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
311 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Introduction / Frans B.M. de Waal. -- Of genes and apes : chimpanzee social organization and reproduction / Anne E. Pusey. -- Apes from Venus : bonobos and human social evolution / Frans B.M. de Waal. -- Beyond the apes : reasons to consider the entire primate order / Karen B. Strier. -- The ape's gift : meat-eating, meat-sharing, and human evolution / Craig B. Stanford. -- Out of the pan, into the fire : how our ancestor's evolution depended on what they ate / Richard W. Wrangham. -- Social and technical forms of primate intelligence / Richard W. Byrne. -- Brains on two legs : group size and the evolution of intelligence / Robin I.M. Dunbar. -- From primate communication to human language / Charles T. Snowdon. -- The nature of culture : prospects and pitfalls of cultural primatology / William C. McGrew.
Format :


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QL737.P9 T75 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
QL737.P9 T75 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



How did we become the linguistic, cultured, and hugely successful apes that we are? Our closest relatives - the other mentally complex and socially skilled primates - offer tantalizing clues. In this volume nine of the world's top primate experts read these clues and compose the most extensive picture to date of what the behaviour of monkeys and apes can tell us about our own evolution as a species.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

What made humans become the hugely successful apes that we are? Are we so separate from our nearest relatives that studying apes' behavior has nothing to teach us about ourselves? Or does watching how apes interact socially give us clues about our own evolution? The authors come down solidly on the side of the applicability of primate studies to the study of humans. Growing from a 1997 conference on human evolution, this selection of nine essays by working primatologists include speculations about the origins of human social evolution from the perspective of their studies on other primates. An essay on bonobos discusses their generally peaceful, female-dominated society, in which social bonds are cemented with sex, in contrast to another study on the combative, male-dominated chimpanzee, whose social bonds are facilitated by sharing meat. A fascinating chapter compares the early humanoids Australopithecus and Homo erectus to the living apes and speculates as to the role fire and cooked foods played in human evolution. All of the essays are accessible to the general reader. --Nancy Bent

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nine of the world's leading primatologists come together in this engaging volume to discuss many of the evolutionary forces that have created Homo sapiens. Edited by the eminent de Waal (The Ape and the Sushi Master, Forecasts, Feb. 19) of Emory University, all nine essays find an appropriate middle ground neither too technical nor too simplistic. Each also summarizes the current state of research into some aspect of primate behavior and what we can learn from it about the evolution of human life and culture. The acquisition, distribution and preparation of food is central to the contributions by Craig Stanford and Richard Wrangham. Stanford argues that collaborative hunting may be responsible for the development of social intelligence, while Wrangham cogently links the discovery of cooking to the creation of the human mating system. Richard Byrne's contribution discusses the evolution of human intelligence by examining patterns of tool use and food manipulation in living primates. Charles Snowdon explores the twin concepts of communication and language by looking broadly across the animal kingdom and wrestling with the question of whether or not there is such a thing as a language instinct. William McGrew does much the same for culture, effectively demonstrating that humans can no longer be considered the sole purveyors of culture. With nine separate essays, it is not surprising that a fair amount of repetition occurs, but the strengths clearly outweigh the shortcomings in this provocative book. (Apr. 30) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Here, noted primatologist de Waal (Chimpanzee Politics) invited scientists who participated in a 1997 symposium on primate behavior and human social behavior to shed new light on the origins of human evolution. The authors draw on their collective years of research observing nonhuman primates to find comparisons between primates and man in such areas as ecology, sex and reproduction, social organization, culture, cognition, language, and hominization. Since the great apes are the nonhuman primates most closely related to humans genetically, they are the primary subject of the studies in this volume. Dr. Karen Strier broadens the horizon with her study of the muriqui, a South American monkey. While each primatologist competently addresses the subject of human origins, their theories vary and sometimes even clash. The individual pieces are intriguingly interesting, but the whole complex puzzle remains unsolved. The text is supplemented with research notes from each author. For academic and larger science collections. Raymond Hamel, Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Ctr. Lib., Madison (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

IntroductionFrans B. M. de Waal
1 Of Genes and Apes: Chimpanzee Social Organization and ReproductionAnne E. Pusey
2 Apes from Venus: Bonobos and Human Social EvolutionFrans B. M. de Waal
3 Beyond the Apes: Reasons to Consider the Entire Primate OrderKaren B. Strier
4 The Ape's Gift: Meat-eating, Meat-sharing, and Human EvolutionCraig S. Stanford
5 Out of the Pan, Into the Fire: How Our Ancestors' Evolution Depended on What They AteRichard W. Wrangham
6 Social and Technical Forms of Primate IntelligenceRichard W. Byrne
7 Brains on Two Legs: Group Size and the Evolution of IntelligenceRobin I. M. Dunbar
8 From Primate Communication to Human LanguageCharles T. Snowdon
9 The Nature of Culture: Prospects and Pitfalls of Cultural PrimatologyWilliam C. McGrew