Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence, Culture, and Individualized Societies

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9780674018235: Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence, Culture, and Individualized Societies
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For over 25 years, primatologists have speculated that intelligence, at least in monkeys and apes, evolved as an adaptation to the complicated social milieu of hard-won friendships and bitterly contested rivalries. Yet the Balkanization of animal research has prevented us from studying the same problem in other large-brained, long-lived animals, such as hyenas and elephants, bats and sperm whales. Social complexity turns out to be widespread indeed. For example, in many animal societies one individual's innovation, such as tool use or a hunting technique, may spread within the group, thus creating a distinct culture. As this collection of studies on a wide range of species shows, animals develop a great variety of traditions, which in turn affect fitness and survival.

The editors argue that future research into complex animal societies and intelligence will change the perception of animals as gene machines, programmed to act in particular ways and perhaps elevate them to a status much closer to our own. At a time when humans are perceived more biologically than ever before, and animals as more cultural, are we about to witness the dawn of a truly unified social science, one with a distinctly cross-specific perspective?

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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:

This book...is the latest contribution to the debate over what animals understand about their social environments and how this influences their behavior and organisation. It comprises 18 papers and several case studies by 52 prominent scientists or promising young researchers. The topics covered range from life history and cognitive evolution in primates, laughter and smiling in mammals, and vocal communication in wild parrots, to questions of emotional recognition in chimpanzees and the possibility of culture in killer whales. The volume's most notable contribution is that it brings together a collection of studies on a wide range of species and topics in an effort to provide the groundwork for future synthetic work on the organising principles underlying complex animal societies...Credit is due to De Waal and Tyack for putting together this book...It should be of interest to anyone curious about animal behavior. (Jessica Flack Times Higher Education Supplement 2004-06-18)

This excellent collection is the outcome of a conference held in 2000 under the auspices of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Judging by the published results, the conference itself must have been a rich occasion. It must be a rare gathering that draws together for any purpose behavioural scientists specializing in such vastly different animal groups...In this case, the exercise brings a remarkably wide comparative perspective to bear on animal social complexity. Consequently, the reader is given a wealth of fine descriptive detail, but is also encouraged to step back from the detail and reflect in broader evolutionary terms on the relationship between intelligence, culture, and the cognitive demands of social relationships in individualized societies. (Hilary Callan The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

Be prepared...for a book that is like a small library itself and one that will free you of some illusions about human uniqueness...In summary, this book is an important contribution to our knowledge of intelligence and culture in non-human species. (Pouwel Slurink Human Ethology Bulletin 2004-01-01)

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9780674009295: Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence, Culture, and Individualized Societies

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ISBN 10:  0674009290 ISBN 13:  9780674009295
Publisher: Harvard University Press, 2003
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9780674419124: Animal Social Complexity

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