It's no secret that humans and apes share a host of traits, from the tribal communities we form to our irrepressible curiosity. We have a common ancestor, scientists tell us, so it's natural that we act alike. But not all of these parallels are so appealing: the chimpanzee, for example, can be as vicious and manipulative as any human.
Yet there's more to our shared primate heritage than just our violent streak. In Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal, one of the world's great primatologists and a renowned expert on social behavior in apes, presents the provocative idea that our noblest qualities--generosity, kindness, altruism--are as much a part of our nature as are our baser instincts. After all, we share them with another primate: the lesser-known bonobo. As genetically similar to man as the chimpanzee, the bonobo has a temperament and a lifestyle vastly different from those of its genetic cousin. Where chimps are aggressive, territorial, and hierarchical, bonobos are gentle, loving, and erotic (sex for bonobos is as much about pleasure and social bonding as it is about reproduction).
While the parallels between chimp brutality and human brutality are easy to see, de Waal suggests that the conciliatory bonobo is just as legitimate a model to study when we explore our primate heritage. He even connects humanity's desire for fairness and its morality with primate behavior, offering a view of society that contrasts markedly with the caricature people have of Darwinian evolution. It's plain that our finest qualities run deeper in our DNA than experts have previously thought.
Frans de Waal has spent the last two decades studying our closest primate relations, and his observations of each species in Our Inner Ape encompass the spectrum of human behavior. This is an audacious book, an engrossing discourse that proposes thought-provoking and sometimes shocking connections among chimps, bonobos, and those most paradoxical of apes, human beings.
Does biology condemn the human species to violence and war? Previous studies of animal behavior incline us to answer yes, but the message of this book is considerably more optimistic. Without denying our heritage of aggressive behavior, Frans de Waal describes powerful checks and balances in the makeup of our closest animal relatives, and in so doing he shows that to humans making peace is as natural as making war.
In this meticulously researched and absorbing account, we learn in detail how different types of simians cope with aggression, and how they make peace after fights. Chimpanzees, for instance, reconcile with a hug and a kiss, whereas rhesus monkeys groom the fur of former adversaries. By objectively examining the dynamics of primate social interactions, de Waal makes a convincing case that confrontation should not be viewed as a barrier to sociality but rather as an unavoidable element upon which social relationships can be built and strengthened through reconciliation.
The author examines five different species--chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, stump-tailed monkeys, bonobos, and humans--and relates anecdotes, culled from exhaustive observations, that convey the intricacies and refinements of simian behavior. Each species utilizes its own unique peacemaking strategies. The bonobo, for example, is little known to science, and even less to the general public, but this rare ape maintains peace by means of sexual behavior divorced from reproductive functions; sex occurs in all possible combinations and positions whenever social tensions need to be resolved. "Make love, not war" could be the bonobo slogan.
De Waal's demonstration of reconciliation in both monkeys and apes strongly supports his thesis that forgiveness and peacemaking are widespread among nonhuman primates--an aspect of primate societies that should stimulate much needed work on human conflict resolution.
"The book is beautifully designed, and the contents are well organized and will be interesting to all.... An excellent text for a relevant course or a welcome addition to any home library. I recommend it very highly." --Science Books and Films
The Primate Family Tree is a beautiful and comprehensive resource on the subject of our animal relatives: apes, monkeys and lemurs. Readers will learn an abundance of facts, review recent research and conservation efforts and discover the remarkable characteristics shared by all primates, including humans.
The book is structured according to the four main branches of the primate family tree and contains expert information on the natural history, characteristics and behavior of over 250 species, along with maps showing the ranges of each species.
Some of the topics covered are:
With its authoritative text, color photographs taken in the field, range maps and classification diagrams, The Primate Family Tree is an outstanding reference on a subject of vital importance to all humans.
In the tradition of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, Robert Sapolsky, a foremost science writer and recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, tells the mesmerizing story of his twenty-one years in remote Kenya with a troop of Savannah baboons."I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla," writes Robert Sapolsky in this witty and riveting chronicle of a scientist's coming-of-age in remote Africa. An exhilarating account of Sapolsky's twenty-one-year study of a troop of rambunctious baboons in Kenya, A Primate's Memoir interweaves serious scientific observations with wry commentary about the challenges and pleasures of living in the wilds of the Serengeti--for man and beast alike. Over two decades, Sapolsky survives culinary atrocities, gunpoint encounters, and a surreal kidnapping, while witnessing the encroachment of the tourist mentality on the farthest vestiges of unspoiled Africa. As he conducts unprecedented physiological research on wild primates, he becomes evermore enamored of his subjects--unique and compelling characters in their own right--and he returns to them summer after summer, until tragedy finally prevents him. By turns hilarious and poignant, A Primate's Memoir is a magnum opus from one of our foremost science writers.
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.
Using Shakespeare's play The Tempest and its characters Prospero and Caliban as structural metaphors representing the master-slave relationship between humans and chimpanzees, authors Dale Peterson and Jane Goodall collaborate in this exploration of our interaction with the species that shares more than 98 percent of our genetic makeup. After introducing us to an animal that fashions and uses tools, exploits forest medicines, transmits learned cultural behaviors, and exhibits human-like emotions, Peterson and Goodall present an illuminating, frequently startling study of the current threats to wild chimpanzees' habitats and the many abuses that chimps have endured and continue to face at the hands of humans. They address conservation issues and ethical questions concerning keeping chimpanzees in captivity, whether as pets or for entertainment or research, and offer firsthand evidence of the drastically declining numbers of chimpanzees in the wild.Through their in-depth exploration of our relationship with chimpanzees, Peterson and Goodall demonstrate our close ties to these animals and also reveal how distant humans have become from their own place in nature. Both an informative, entertaining collection of stories about the authors' research experiences with chimps and a poignant call for a change in our perceptions and treatment of them, Visions of Caliban is a moving and important work.
Deep in the volcano country of central Africa live some of the rarest, most intriguing animals on earth -- the mountain gorillas. Here, in the mist-shrouded forests, Dian Fossey courageously dedicated her life to studying them. Here she patiently waited until the luminous-eyed gorillas accepted her presence, hugged her, and loved her...while she fought for their survival against poachers, callous researchers, zoo collectors, and local bureaucrats. And here, surrounded by these enemies, she died, mysteriously and brutally murdered.
Now, one of the world's most respected naturalist writers draws for the first time ever on Dian Fossey's personal writings to reveal the true story of a magnificent obsession...one woman's enormous empathy for a highly intelligent, desperately endangered animal -- and how it ruled her life, her work, and her heart.