The Mentalities of Gorillas and Orangutans: Comparative Perspectives

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This volume aims to complete the picture of hominoid cognition bringing together the work on gorillas and orangutans and setting it in comparative perspective. This book's introductory chapters set the evolutionary context for comparing cognition in gorillas and orangutans to that of chimpanzees, bonobos and humans. The remaining chapters focus primarily on the kinds and levels of intelligence displayed by orangutans and gorillas compared to other great apes, including performances in the classic domains of tool use and tool making, imitation, self awareness, social communication, and symbol use.
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Editorial Reviews

This volume begins by setting recent research on orangutans and gorillas in a context for comparing it to chimpanzees and humans. These introductory pieces are followed by discussions of the kinds and levels of orangutan and gorilla intelligence compared to other great apes. Specialists in anthropology, evolution, psychology, and primate research, examine orangutan and gorilla performances in areas such as tool use and tool making, imitation, self-awareness, social communication, and symbol use, and conclude that all great apes have attributes that have commonly been associated only with chimpanzees. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"This is an excellent volume, chock full of information and perspectives on some of our closest relatives. Highly recommended for professional anthropologists and psychologists." Choice

"The Mentalities of Gorillas and Orangutans is a dynamic collection of technical papers that casts a bright light onto the depth and breadth of these two genera of great apes...this book fills a longstanding knowledge gap. Leading experts in the field of primate cognition and intelligence, Sue Taylor Parker, Robert W. Mitchell, and H. Lyn Miles draw together a cast of talented bring ground-breaking cognitive and behavioral research on gorillas and orangutans to the forefront in this dense, fact-filled volume." Bioscience

"...this book provides some valuable information about the cognitive abilities of gorillas and orangutans. It is important to recognize that chimpanzees are not our only 'sibling species', and that research on great ape cognition should reflect the close evolutionary relationships between all the great apes and humans. This volume is a good first step in that direction." Ethology

"The authors of the present volume are to be commended for providing such a rich reference resource in support of the goal of integrating data across primate-including human primate-species." APA Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521031936
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

List of contributors vii
Preface ix
Acknowledgments xi
I Comparative evolutionary and developmental perspectives on gorillas and orangutans
1 Hominid family values: morphological and molecular data on relations among the great apes and humans 3
2 The life history and development of great apes in comparative perspective 43
3 The frontal lobes of the great apes with a focus on the gorilla and the orangutan 70
II Cognition and tool use in gorillas and orangutans
4 Intelligent tool use in wild Sumatran orangutans 99
5 Orangutans' imitation of tool use: a cognitive interpretation 117
6 Object manipulation and skill organization in the complex food preparation of mountain gorillas 147
7 Development of sensorimotor intelligence in infant gorillas: the manipulation of objects in problem-solving and exploration 160
8 Tool use in captive gorillas 179
9 A survey of tool use in zoo gorillas 188
III Communication in gorillas and orangutans
10 Symbolic communication with and by great apes 197
11 The development of spontaneous gestural communication in a group of zoo-living lowland gorillas 211
12 Early sign-language acquisition: comparisons between children and gorillas 240
13 Early sign performance in a free-ranging, adult orangutan 265
IV Social cognition in gorillas and orangutans
14 Comparative aspects of mirror self-recognition in great apes 283
15 Deception and concealment as strategic script violation in great apes and humans 295
16 Levels of imitation and cognitive mechanisms in orangutans 316
17 Parental encouragement in Gorilla in comparative perspective: implications for social cognition and the evolution of teaching 342
18 The development of social roles in the play of an infant gorilla and its relationship to sensorimotor intellectual development 367
V Epilogue
19 The mentalities of gorillas and orangutans in phylogenetic perspective 397
Index of authors 412
Index of subjects 416
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