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Beautiful Minds

Beautiful Minds

The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins

Maddalena Bearzi, Craig Stanford

ISBN 9780674046276

Publication date: 05/01/2010

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.”

Praise

  • 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.

    —Publishers Weekly

Authors

  • Maddalena Bearzi is President and co-founder of the Ocean Conservation Society and 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.
  • Craig Stanford is Professor of Biological Sciences and Anthropology at the University of Southern California.

Book Details

  • 368 pages
  • 4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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