The Cultured Chimpanzee: Reflections on Cultural Primatology

The Cultured Chimpanzee: Reflections on Cultural Primatology

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William McGrew
Cambridge University Press, 2004-10-21
EAN 9780521535434, ISBN10: 0521535433

Paperback, 262 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.7 cm

Short of inventing a time machine, we will never see our extinct forebears in action and be able to determine directly how human behaviour and culture has developed. However, we can learn from our closest living relatives, the African great apes. The Cultured Chimpanzee explores the astonishing variation in chimpanzee behaviour across their range, which cannot be explained by individual learning, genetic or environmental influences. It promotes the view that this rich diversity in social life and material culture reflects social learning of traditions, and more closely resembles cultural variety in humans than the simpler behaviour of other animal species. This stimulating book shows that the field of cultural primatology may therefore help us to reconstruct the cultural evolution of Homo sapiens from earlier forms, and that it is essential for anthropologists, archaeologists and zoologists to work together to develop a stronger understanding of human and primate cultural evolution.

'[the author] creates a unique framework for drawing scattered data together, there by clarifying what is known and what is not yet known. His logic and his trains of thought are extremely clear. The text is simple to follow, even for non-English readers, and yet the messages are stimulating, heuristic and reach deep into the heart of the matter ... McGrew's Chimpanzee Material Culture (1992) is already recognized as one of primatology's classic textbooks and this 2004 follow-up should receive similarly wide attention and become another milestone in the study of the evolutionary basis of human culture.' Nature