Chimpanzee Material Culture: Implications for Human Evolution / Edition 1

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Overview

The chimpanzee, of all other living species, is our closest relation, with whom we last shared a common ancestor about 5 million years ago. These African apes make and use a rich and varied kit of tools, and of the primates they are the only consistent and habitual tool-users and tool-makers.

Chimpanzees meet the criteria of culture as originally defined for human beings by socio-cultural anthropologists. They show sex differences in using tools to obtain and to process a variety of plant and animal foods. The technological gap between chimpanzees and human societies that live by foraging (hunter-gatherers) is surprisingly narrow, at least for food-getting. Different communities of wild chimpanzees have different tool-kits, and not all of this regional and local variation can be explained by the demands of the physical and biotic environments in which they live. Some differences are likely to be customs based on socially derived and symbolically encoded traditions.

Chimpanzees serve as heuristic, referential models for the reconstruction of cultural evolution in apes and humans from a common ancestor. However, chimpanzees are not humans, and key differences exist between them and us, though many of these apparent contrasts remain to be explored empirically and theoretically.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...an important contribution both to our understanding of chimpanzee behavior (it provides the first critical synthesis of a widely scattered literature of very variable quality) and to our understanding of the process of hominization. It will be particularly valuable if it persuades social scientists to take the work of primatologists and other animal biologists more seriously." R.I.M. Dunbar, Nature

"...a comprehensive synthesis of chimpanzee material culture...." Sanjida O'Connell, New Scientist

"This book is as fascinating for its methodology and its questions as for the remarkable observations it gathers. Overall it strengthens, in spite of itself, the popular bias of our times: hominid culture grew not from routine tool use but out of new software abilities based on new neural hardware. It is the combinatorial richness of blossoming language that will be hardest to sift out of the ash layer of the Rift." Scientific American

"Chimpanzee Material Culture ably fills an enormous gap in the physical anthropologist's bookshelf. In it, William r. McGrew achieves two quite different but equally worthwhile goals. He sets forth a clear, encyclopedic account of tool-use behavior by chimpanzees at sites across Africa (and by other free-ranging apes and captive apes to a lesser extent), then, moving beyond compilation, contributes to anthropological modeling and theory. Topics as diverse as the meaning of culture; significant factors in hominization; and referential vs. conceptual modeling are dealt with in perceptive and thought-provoking ways." Barbara J. King, American Journal of Physical Anthropology

"...masterfully integrates primatology and (paleo)anthropology, scrutinizes diet, food acquisition and processing, and other aspects of chimpanzees' daily life and compares their behaviors with those of other ape species and living hunter-gatherer societies to gain insight into hominization." Elisabetta Visalberghi, Science

"This book is, in a word, elegant. It is clearly conceived, closely reasoned, concisely formulated and cleanly presented...Adroitly interweaving information with interpretation, McGrew focuses sharply on the core issue of cultural overlap in chimpanzee communities and human societies...the work merits special praise for a fluid integration of ideas." Geza Teleki, American Scientist

"A fascinating book..." E. Delson, Choice

"This book is as fascinating for its methodology and its questions as for the remarkable observations it gathers. Overall it strengthens, in spite of itself, the popular bias of our times: hominid culture grew not from routine tool use but out of new software abilities based on new neural hardware. It is the combinatorial richness of blossoming language that will be hardest to sift out of the ash layer of the Rift." Scientific American

"This book is, in a word, elegant. It is clearly conceived, closely reasoned, concisely formulated and cleanly presented...Adroitly interweaving information with interpretation, McGrew focuses sharply on the core issue of cultural overlap in chimpanzee communities and human societies...the work merits special praise for a fluid integration of ideas." Geza Teleki, American Scientist

"...this important volume provides an exquisite review of chimpanzee material "culture." It also raises provocative and researchable evolutionary questions which could keep anthropologists busy for decades to come." Kathleen R. Gibson, Iinternational Journal of Primatology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521423717
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1992
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xiii
1 Patterns of culture? 1
Introduction 1
The prey 2
Six key sites 3
Other sites 6
Non-human culture? 10
2 Studying chimpanzees 15
Introduction 15
Development of chimpanzee research 16
Studies in nature 16
Studies in capitivity 20
Sites of study 23
Eastern chimpanzees 23
Central-western chimpanzees 25
Western chimpanzees 27
Captive chimpanzees 28
Methods of study 29
Studies in nature 30
Methodological issues 34
Studies in capitivity 36
Collecting data 38
Conclusion 39
3 Chimpanzees as apes 40
Introduction 40
Sources and methods 41
Patterns of tool-use 44
Chimpanzee 44
Bonobo 47
Orang-utan 49
Highland gorilla 51
Lowland gorilla 51
Gibbon 52
Socio-ecology 53
Brain 55
Hands 57
Mind 57
Apes and their tools 59
Ancestral hominoids 62
4 Cultured chimpanzees? 65
Introduction 65
Gombe and Kasoje compared 65
Case study: Grooming 67
Defining culture 72
Japanese macaques 77
Additional conditions for culture 78
Chimpanzees as culture-bearers? 79
Culture denied? 82
5 Chimpanzee sexes 88
Introduction 88
Sex or gender? An aside 89
Sex differences in diet: invertebrates 89
Case study: Termite-fishing 90
Chimpanzees, tools and termites 92
Case study: Ant-dipping 93
Chimpanzees and ants 97
Sex differences in diet: meat 99
Case study: Mammals as prey 99
Carnivory elsewhere 102
Sex and faunivory 103
Nut-cracking 105
Food-sharing 106
Case-study: Banana-sharing 107
Other food sharing 111
Other apes 112
Origins of sexual division of labour 113
Origins of tool-use 115
6 Chimpanzees and foragers 121
Cautionary note 121
Why compare chimpanzees and hunter-gatherers? 121
Ideal versus actual comparisons 123
Hot, dry and open habitats: humans and apes compared 127
Case study: Tasmanian humans and Tanzanian apes 131
Oswalt's taxonomy 131
Choosing samples 134
Tasmanian aborigines 136
Tanzanian chimpanzees 139
Subsistants compared 141
Similarities and differences 144
Diet 144
Food acquisition and processing 146
Conclusions 149
7 Chimpanzees compared 150
Introduction 150
Difficulties of comparison: eating meat 150
Chimpanzee insectivory 153
Termites 155
Ants 159
Honey 162
Explaining variation 166
Case study: 'Fishing' for termites 168
Hammers and anvils 173
8 Chimpanzee ethnology 177
Cataloguing tool-kits 177
Non-subsistence technology 181
Regional and local patterns 189
Innovation 193
The invention of termite-fishing 195
Cross-cultural chimpanzees? 196
9 Chimpanzees as models 198
Kinds of models 198
Models of what? 200
Stone artefacts 202
Why have palaeo-anthropologists ignored other primates? 207
Another cautionary note 212
Conclusions 214
10 What chimpanzees are, are not, and might be 215
Introduction 215
Conceiving of chimpanzees 215
Evolutionarily relevant gaps 217
Hunting 218
Gathering 218
Food processing 219
Communication 222
Unanswered questions 223
Conclusions 230
Appendix. Scientific names 231
References 233
Author index 264
Subject index 270
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