Monkeytalk: Inside the Worlds and Minds of Primates (Hardback)
  • Monkeytalk: Inside the Worlds and Minds of Primates (Hardback)
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Monkeytalk: Inside the Worlds and Minds of Primates (Hardback)

(author)
£19.00
Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 27/01/2017
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Monkey see, monkey do or does he? Can the behavior of non-human primates their sociality, their intelligence, their communication really be chalked up to simple mimicry? Emphatically, absolutely: no. And as famed primatologist Julia Fischer reveals, the human bias inherent in this oft-uttered adage is our loss, for it is only through the study of our primate brethren that we may begin to understand ourselves. An eye-opening blend of storytelling, memoir, and science, Monkeytalk takes us into the field and the world's primate labs to investigate the intricacies of primate social mores through the lens of communication. After first detailing the social interactions of key species from her fieldwork from baby-wielding male Barbary macaques, who use infants as social accessories in a variety of interactions, to aggression among the chacma baboons of southern Africa and male-male tolerance among the Guinea baboons of Senegal Fischer explores the role of social living in the rise of primate intelligence and communication, ultimately asking what the ways in which other primates communicate can teach us about the evolution of human language. Funny and fascinating, Fischer's tale roams from a dinner in the field shared with lionesses to insights gleaned from Rico, a border collie with an astonishing vocabulary, but its message is clear: it is humans who are the evolutionary mimics. The primate heritage visible in our species is far more striking than the reverse, and it is the monkeys who deserve to be seen. "The social life of macaques and baboons is a magnificent opera," Fischer writes. "Allow me now to raise the curtain on it."

Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226124247
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 499 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"In Monkeytalk, Fischer offers a lively, personal, and nuanced perspective on primate behavior. She neither embellishes nor diminishes primate intelligence, but evaluates it objectively. And she does so in the most appropriate way--in the natural environment in which it evolved."--Dorothy L. Cheney and Robert M. Seyfarth, coauthors of "How Monkeys See the World" and "Baboon Metaphysics"
"Fascinated by the complex social lives of monkeys, primatologist Fischer has been studying Barbary macaques and baboons for decades in order to understand the connections among their social behavior, intelligence, and capacity for communication. This book is a survey of experimental work carried out by Fischer and other researchers and includes studies of how monkeys perceive space and time, their awareness of others, and their use of gestures and alarm calls. . . . Amusing anecdotes about Fischer's trials and tribulations as a field primatologist in Senegal and Botswana serve as counterpoint to the detailed technical content. Recommended for nonspecialists intrigued by animal intelligence and fans of Frans de Waal's Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?"--Library Journal
"Fischer's recollections of field research (where 'strong nerves, grit and oftentimes a morbid sense of humor are essential') and descriptions of monkey behavior are highly engaging. The account of babysitting among Barbary macaques is especially vivid and memorable. . . . Only on the final page does Fischer make the reader fully aware of two very dark clouds hanging over the progress of knowledge concerning our fellow primates. One is that long-term research--while necessary, since most species have long life spans--is difficult given the scarcity of long-term funding. The other is that a majority of species are now endangered, and many are on the verge of extinction. Monkeytalk certainly leaves you with a feeling of the depths that loss will mean."--Inside Higher Ed
"Monkeytalk invites readers into the complex social world of monkeys. . . . Our primate relatives specialize in tracking comrades' behaviors, Fischer holds, rather than trying to infer others' plans and desires. And unlike human groups, monkey communities don't steadily accumulate knowledge and innovations or communicate in languagelike ways. . . . So what if monkeys don't write books or gossip about each other? Their social lives are complex enough to remain largely a mystery to humans, Fischer concludes. The gritty work of conducting long-term studies, especially in the wild, can illuminate the worlds inhabited by monkeys."--Science News
"How Monkeys See the World is . . . the title of a classic work in primate research that was written in 1990 by Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth. Later on, Fischer herself worked for this team of researchers, and in Botswana she worked on, among other things, detailed 'playback' experiments in which . . . the alarm call of a relative was played to monkeys using a (hidden) speaker so that their reactions could be observed. In her book Monkeytalk, Fischer now offers a beautiful overview of the state of such research projects."--Die Zeit, on the German edition

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