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The Ape in the Tree

The Ape in the Tree

An Intellectual and Natural History of Proconsul

Alan Walker, Pat Shipman

ISBN 9780674016750

Publication date: 04/15/2005

This book offers a unique insider's perspective on the unfolding discovery of a crucial link in our evolution: Proconsul, a fossil ape named whimsically after a performing chimpanzee called Consul.

The Ape in the Tree is written in the voice of Alan Walker, whose involvement with Proconsul began when his graduate supervisor analyzed the tree-climbing adaptations in the arm and hand of this extinct creature. Today, Proconsul is the best-known fossil ape in the world.

The history of ideas is set against the vivid adventures of Walker's fossil-hunting expeditions in remote regions of Africa, where the team met with violent thunderstorms, dangerous wildlife, and people isolated from the Western world. Analysis of the thousands of new Proconsul specimens they recovered provides revealing glimpses of the life of this last common ancestor between apes and humans.

The attributes of Proconsul have profound implications for the very definition of humanness. This book speaks not only of an ape in a tree but also of the ape in our tree.

Praise

  • Proconsul lays claim to being the best known ape in the fossil record and Alan Walker and Pat Shipman tell the story of this prized fossil superbly well. Wonderfully engaging and insightful, The Ape in the Tree is sure to become a classic in the literature on human origins.

    —Roger Lewin, author of Principles of Human Evolution

Authors

  • Alan Walker is Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. A Royal Society and MacArthur Fellow, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1996, he and Pat Shipman won the prestigious Rhône-Poulenc Prize for The Wisdom of the Bones.
  • Pat Shipman is the author of many books, including The Invaders, The Animal Connection, and The Ape in the Tree (with Alan Walker), which won the W. W. Howells Award from the American Anthropological Association. Shipman is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Geographical Society of London.

Book Details

  • 312 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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