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Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence, Culture and Individualised Societies [Hardcover]

Frans Bm De Waal

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Book Description

1 April 2003
For over 25 years, primatologists have speculated that intelligence, at least in monkeys and apes, evolved as an adaptation to the complicated social milieu of hard-won friendships and bitterly contested rivalries. Yet the Balkanization of animal research has prevented us from studying the same problem, in other large-brained, long-lived animals, such as hyenas and elephants, bats and sperm whales. Social complexity turns out to be widespread indeed. For example, in many animal societies one individual's innovation, such as tool use or a hunting technique, may spread within the group, thus creating a distinct culture. As this collection of studies on a wide range of species shows, animals develop a great variety of traditions, which in turn affect fitness and survival. The editors argue that future research into complex animal societies and intelligence will change the perception of animals as gene machines, programmed to act in particular ways and perhaps elevate them to a status much closer to our own. At a time when humans are perceived more biologically than ever before, and animals as more cultural, are we about to witness the dawn of a truly unified social science, one with a distinctly cross-specific perspective?

Product details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (1 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674009290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674009295
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 16.6 x 3.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,760,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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 "The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute "

About the Author

Frans B. M. de Waal is C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Psychology Department, and Director of Living Links, part of the Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University. He is the author of Tree of Origin and Good Natured (both from Harvard), among others. Peter L. Tyack is Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars O.K., but not what I expected 29 Sep 2005
By A Reader - Published on Amazon.com
I was very excited to read this book, it looked like an excellent compilation of interesting research from a wide range of fields. However, I was dissappointed by the contents. Most chapters are just reviews of the general research of the authors, and some hardly address the idea of intelligence and culture. Some authors spend the whole chapter just reviewing their research, and then in the last paragraph run over their thoughts on if there is intelligence or culture in their study species in just a few sentences. Having said that, some chapters are golden and well worth the read. Because this book is relatively cheap for a science book, I would say that the few insightful chapters make it worth the cost, but overall it was not as informative or interesting as I had hoped.
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