Tree of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution

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9780674010048: Tree of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution
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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 Tree of Origin nine of the world's top primate experts read these clues and compose the most extensive picture to date of what the behavior of monkeys and apes can tell us about our own evolution as a species.

It has been nearly fifteen years since a single volume addressed the issue of human evolution from a primate perspective, and in that time we have witnessed explosive growth in research on the subject. Tree of Origin gives us the latest news about bonobos, the "make love not war" apes who behave so dramatically unlike chimpanzees. We learn about the tool traditions and social customs that set each ape community apart. We see how DNA analysis is revolutionizing our understanding of paternity, intergroup migration, and reproductive success. And we confront intriguing discoveries about primate hunting behavior, politics, cognition, diet, and the evolution of language and intelligence that challenge claims of human uniqueness in new and subtle ways.

Tree of Origin provides the clearest glimpse yet of the apelike ancestor who left the forest and began the long journey toward modern humanity.

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About the Author:

Frans B. M. de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Psychology Department and Director of Living Links, part of the Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University.

Review:

Human behavior today is so unfathomable and complex that it's hard to relate it to influences from the remote past. But if you want a source that cogently discusses human intelligence in the context of the behavior of other primates, Tree of Origin is the place to turn. (Ian Tattersall, Curator, American Museum of Natural History and author of Becoming Human)

The last few decades have seen enormous progress in the study of primate behavior. Nine of the world's leading experts team up to tell us what it all means, throwing new light on human evolution. (Jane Goodall)

In Tree of Origin, primatologists speak out about the evolution of human behavior. After decades of hard work - all those hours in the sun, all those days of stomping though forests, all those years of watching monkeys and apes - they have come to provocative conclusions about how the behavior of our closest relatives informs our own lives. This book is the bridge between our past and our present. (Meredith Small, author of Kids: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Raise Our Children)

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...All of the essays are accessible to the general reader. (Booklist 2001-04-01)

[An] enlightening discussion of how scientists' ideas about human forebears have been shaped--and perhaps led astray--by extrapolations from intensive study of a few primates. Whether you are interested in human origins or in how other animals live their lives, [this book] is a superb synthesis of current thinking and research about our closest nonhuman relatives. (Susan Okie Washington Post Book World 2001-06-01)

A fascinating bunch of essays...They re-examine human social evolution from the perspective of naturalistic observations of non-human primates, and then extrapolate to humans. (Laura Spinney New Scientist 2001-05-28)

De Waal's is just one of a fascinating bunch of essays by primatologists in Tree of Origin. They re-examine human social evolution from the perspective of naturalistic observations of non-human primates, and then extrapolate to humans. (Laura Spinney New Scientist)

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