In this masterwork, Russell H. Tuttle synthesizes a vast research literature in primate evolution and behavior to explain how apes and humans evolved in relation to one another, and why humans became a bipedal, tool-making, culture-inventing species distinct from other hominoids. Along the way, he refutes the influential theory that men are essentially killer apes—sophisticated but instinctively aggressive and destructive beings.
Situating humans in a broad context, Tuttle musters convincing evidence from morphology and recent fossil discoveries to reveal what early primates ate, where they slept, how they learned to walk upright, how brain and hand anatomy evolved simultaneously, and what else happened evolutionarily to cause humans to diverge from their closest relatives. Despite our genomic similarities with bonobos, chimpanzees, and gorillas, humans are unique among primates in occupying a symbolic niche of values and beliefs based on symbolically mediated cognitive processes. Although apes exhibit behaviors that strongly suggest they can think, salient elements of human culture—speech, mating proscriptions, kinship structures, and moral codes—are symbolic systems that are not manifest in ape niches.
This encyclopedic volume is both a milestone in primatological research and a critique of what is known and yet to be discovered about human and ape potential.
Like the late Stephen Jay Gould’s magisterial Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Tuttle’s tome is a grand synthesis of all the latest research and data about apes and their relation to us… But lest you think it is intended chiefly for colleagues in the fields of anthropology and evolutionary biology, Tuttle’s style throughout is crisp and often witty.
Witty, readable, compendious, learned, and judicious, Russell Tuttle’s big new book offers every reader a thorough survey of the biology and evolution of apes, including humans and their ancestors. For scientists, it will be an invaluable resource and a treasury of unfamiliar facts and challenging ideas.
In this masterly overview, Tuttle interprets human evolution through detailed comparisons with our closest zoological relatives, the apes. This is a truly monumental treatise, not only in scope but particularly because of the depth of scholarship that has been brought to bear. Drawing on a lifetime of study focusing on anatomy but also including behavior and ecology, this is destined to become a classic reference work.
A rare accomplishment. Apes and Human Evolution is an unusually fine contribution to the field and will foster great interest in any reader.
Tuttle provides both a synthesis and a history of the evolution of one of the most interesting species of all: ourselves. An impressive achievement, written by an authority on the topic.
- 1072 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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