Cover: Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence, Culture, and Individualized Societies, from Harvard University PressCover: Animal Social Complexity in E-DITION

Animal Social Complexity

Intelligence, Culture, and Individualized Societies

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674419131

Publication Date: 09/28/2005

640 pages

49 halftones, 74 line illustrations


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This book…is the latest contribution to the debate over what animals understand about their social environments and how this influences their behavior and organisation. It comprises 18 papers and several case studies by 52 prominent scientists or promising young researchers. The topics covered range from life history and cognitive evolution in primates, laughter and smiling in mammals, and vocal communication in wild parrots, to questions of emotional recognition in chimpanzees and the possibility of culture in killer whales. The volume’s most notable contribution is that it brings together a collection of studies on a wide range of species and topics in an effort to provide the groundwork for future synthetic work on the organising principles underlying complex animal societies… Credit is due to De Waal and Tyack for putting together this book… It should be of interest to anyone curious about animal behavior.—Jessica Flack, The Times Higher Education Supplement

Be prepared…for a book that is like a small library itself and one that will free you of some illusions about human uniqueness… In summary, this book is an important contribution to our knowledge of intelligence and culture in non-human species.—Pouwel Slurink, Human Ethology Bulletin

This excellent collection is the outcome of a conference held in 2000 under the auspices of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Judging by the published results, the conference itself must have been a rich occasion. It must be a rare gathering that draws together for any purpose behavioural scientists specializing in such vastly different animal groups… In this case, the exercise brings a remarkably wide comparative perspective to bear on animal social complexity. Consequently, the reader is given a wealth of fine descriptive detail, but is also encouraged to step back from the detail and reflect in broader evolutionary terms on the relationship between intelligence, culture, and the cognitive demands of social relationships in individualized societies.—Hilary Callan, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

This book is pure gold. It takes a broad view of the fashionable—and indeed, perpetually interesting question—how animal intelligence relates to social behavior. The contents range from sperm whales to starlings, elephants’ treatment of a dead calf, and chimpanzees’ use of different barks to identify different kinds of food. From it all emerges the current state of thinking on animal imitation, semantics, and the meaning and origins of culture.—Alison Jolly, author of Lucy’s Legacy

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