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Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins

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Overview

Apes and dolphins: primates and cetaceans. Could any creatures appear to be more different? Yet both are large-brained intelligent mammals with complex communication and social interaction. In the first book to study apes and dolphins side by side, Maddalena Bearzi and Craig B. Stanford, a dolphin biologist and a primatologist who have spent their careers studying these animals in the wild, combine their insights with compelling results. Beautiful Minds explains how and why apes and dolphins are so distantly related yet so cognitively alike and what this teaches us about another large-brained mammal: Homo sapiens.

Noting that apes and dolphins have had no common ancestor in nearly 100 million years, Bearzi and Stanford describe the parallel evolution that gave rise to their intelligence. And they closely observe that intelligence in action, in the territorial grassland and rainforest communities of chimpanzees and other apes, and in groups of dolphins moving freely through open coastal waters. The authors detail their subjects’ ability to develop family bonds, form alliances, and care for their young. They offer an understanding of their culture, politics, social structure, personality, and capacity for emotion. The resulting dual portrait—with striking overlaps in behavior—is key to understanding the nature of “beautiful minds.”

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Editorial Reviews

New Scientist

To see the world from someone else's point of view is hard enough but how much harder when that viewpoint is that of a marine dweller with flippers or an ape whose cognition is based on leaf-centered survival in a rainforest? Hand-signed chimp communications and distinguishing imitation from emulation are two of the topics covered here, the first book to investigate the lives of the dolphins and apes in parallel. It explains why both have big brains and, as far as possible, what it must be like to be them. Fascinating.
— Adrian Barnett

Times Higher Education Supplement

Delightful...By the time I reached the final chapter of Beautiful Minds I was so charmed that I felt compelled to read on. Bearzi and Stanford's book has the capacity to delight, entertain, educate, evoke compassion and, I hope, galvanize people into action.
— Debbie Custance

Globe and Mail

Dolphin specialist Bearzi and primatologist Stanford team up in this discussion of the qualities of two species of mammal endowed with remarkably large brains. Among explications of the cultures, politics and emotion of the animals, the authors also make a resounding plea for conserving the ecosystems of these complex creatures.
— Elizabeth Abbott

New Scientist - Adrian Barnett
To see the world from someone else's point of view is hard enough but how much harder when that viewpoint is that of a marine dweller with flippers or an ape whose cognition is based on leaf-centered survival in a rainforest? Hand-signed chimp communications and distinguishing imitation from emulation are two of the topics covered here, the first book to investigate the lives of the dolphins and apes in parallel. It explains why both have big brains and, as far as possible, what it must be like to be them. Fascinating.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Debbie Custance
Delightful...By the time I reached the final chapter of Beautiful Minds I was so charmed that I felt compelled to read on. Bearzi and Stanford's book has the capacity to delight, entertain, educate, evoke compassion and, I hope, galvanize people into action.
Globe and Mail - Elizabeth Abbott
Dolphin specialist Bearzi and primatologist Stanford team up in this discussion of the qualities of two species of mammal endowed with remarkably large brains. Among explications of the cultures, politics and emotion of the animals, the authors also make a resounding plea for conserving the ecosystems of these complex creatures.
New Scientist
To see the world from someone else's point of view is hard enough but how much harder when that viewpoint is that of a marine dweller with flippers or an ape whose cognition is based on leaf-centered survival in a rainforest? Hand-signed chimp communications and distinguishing imitation from emulation are two of the topics covered here, the first book to investigate the lives of the dolphins and apes in parallel. It explains why both have big brains and, as far as possible, what is must be like to be them. Fascinating.
— Adrian Barnett
Globe and Mail
Dolphin specialist Bearzi and primatologist Stanford team up in this discussion of the qualities of two species of mammal endowed with remarkably large brains. Among explications of the cultures, politics and emotion of the animals, the authors also make a resounding plea for conserving the ecosystems of these complex creatures.
— Elizabeth Abbott
Times Higher Education Supplement
Delightful...By the time I reached the final chapter of Beautiful Minds I was so charmed that I felt compelled to read on. Bearzi and Stanford's book has the capacity to delight, entertain, educate, evoke compassion and, I hope, galvanize people into action.
— Debbie Custance
Publishers Weekly

Endowed through evolution with large brains, the great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos gorillas and orangutans) and the cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are second only to humans in intelligence. In this delightful and intriguing book, dolphin specialist Bearzi and primatologist Stanford discuss the similarities between these groups. Both use tools, have sophisticated means of communication and cooperation, solve problems innovatively, transmit cultural traditions to the next generation and are able to imitate others. Like humans, apes and dolphins form complex social networks, and they are capable of deception and manipulation. The authors cite many examples: dolphins hoard objects in order to get treats or wear sponges as protective masks as they forage; apes use twigs to extract termites from termite mounds, chimpanzees cultivate alliances with group mates to dominate their communities. In the final section, Bearzi and Stanford survey the factors making dolphins and apes endangered species, and they make a plea for conserving the ecosystems in which they live, because the beautiful minds of these creatures are "a terrible thing to waste." (Apr.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Dolphin expert Bearzi (Ocean Conservation Society) and chimpanzee expert Stanford (codirector, Jane Goodall Research Ctr.; anthropology & biological sciences, Univ. of Southern California) join forces to discuss two animals about which so much has been written individually. At first glance, apes and dolphins appear to share little in common. But both species successfully negotiate complex physical and social worlds as a result of the parallel evolution of their big brains. Using the perfect combination of science, anecdote, and personal experience, the authors describe the fascinating social, cultural, and intellectual lives of dolphins and apes. These animals are not only clever problem solvers and tool users, but shrewd politicians who form coalitions in order to dominate others and skillful social beings who exploit alliances, remember favors and slights, cooperate to accomplish tasks, and deceive to gain advantage. Bearzi and Stanford have integrated their respective research perspectives into an eloquent book that feels more like an intimate conversation than a treatise. But most significantly, their science is elegantly blended with respect and compassion for these animals. It comes through loud and clear how the authors' study of and relationships with these animals have enriched their lives. A superb work for all science and natural history collections.
—Cynthia Knight

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674046276
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,101,124
  • Product dimensions: 3.90 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Maddalena Bearzi is the President and Co-founder of the Ocean Conservation Society and is a visiting scholar in the Departments of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has studied dolphins and whales in California and different parts of the world.
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Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Beautiful Minds

  1. An Eternal Fascination
  2. Two Histories Afield
  3. Swimming with Dolphins, Swinging with Apes
  4. Dolphin and Ape Societies—Whys and Wherefores
  5. Cognition: Minds in the Sea and Forest
  6. Master Politicians
  7. Culture Vultures
  8. Toward the Roots of Human Intelligence

  • Conclusion: Beautiful Minds Are a Terrible Thing to Waste

  • Further Reading
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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