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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.
De Waal's is just one of a fascinating bunch of essays by primatologists in Tree of Origin. They re-examine human social evolution from the perspective of naturalistic observations of non-human primates, and then extrapolate to humans.
— Laura Spinney
[An] enlightening discussion of how scientists' ideas about human forebears have been shaped—and perhaps led astray—by extrapolations from intensive study of a few primates. Whether you are interested in human origins or in how other animals live their lives, [this book] is a superb synthesis of current thinking and research about our closest nonhuman relatives.
— Susan Okie
Frans B. M. de Waal
1. Anne E. Pusey
Of Genes and Apes: Chimpanzee Social Organization and Reproduction
2. Frans B. M. de Waal
Apes from Venus: Bonobos and Human Social Evolution
3. Karen B. Strier
Beyond the Apes: Reasons to Consider the Entire Primate Order
4. Craig S. Stanford
The Ape's Gift: Meat-eating, Meat-sharing, and Human Evolution
5. Richard W. Wrangham
Out of the Pan, Into the Fire: How Our Ancestors' Evolution Depended on What They Ate
6 Richard W. Byrne
Social and Technical Forms of Primate Intelligence
7. Robin I. M. Dunbar
Brains on Two Legs: Group Size and the Evolution of Intelligence
8. Charles T. Snowdon
From Primate Communication to Human Language
9. William C. McGrew
The Nature of Culture: Prospects and Pitfalls of Cultural Primatology