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Apes and Human Evolution

Apes and Human Evolution

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Apes and Human Evolution
    Book Description:

    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 theory that men are essentially killer apes--sophisticated but instinctively aggressive, destructive beings. Situating humans in a broad context, Tuttle musters 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 among apes. This encylopedic 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72653-6
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Zoology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. 1 Mongrel Models and Seductive Scenarios of Human Evolution
    (pp. 1-12)

    Human evolution is a topic about which much is known and about which a great deal more remains to be learned. Given that more people believe in extraterrestrial beings, ghosts, evil spirits, and angels than in evolution as the process whereby humans and other organisms developed on Earth, the pedagogic mission of evolutionary anthropology is formidable indeed.¹

    The United States lags behind thirty European nations, Cyprus, and Japan in the number of people who accept that we are natural products of evolution. In 2005, 40 percent of respondents accepted evolution, 39 percent rejected it, and 21 percent were uncertain.²


  5. Part I: Terminology, Morphology, Genes, and Lots of Fossils

    • 2 Apes in Space
      (pp. 15-59)

      In the Linnaean system of classifying organisms, people and apes are common members of the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, order Primates, suborder (or infraorder) Anthropoidea, and superfamily Hominoidea. Stated colloquially, the apes and we are hominoid, anthropoid, primate, mammalian, chordate animals. Accordingly, phrases like “primate and human evolution” and “humans and animals” are redundant because humans are primates and animals, too. If one wishes to highlight people, the proper phrasings would be “human and nonhuman primate evolution” and “humans and other animals.”

      Similarly, one need not say anthropoid ape because the phrase is redundant. Ape suffices to designate...

    • 3 Apes in Time
      (pp. 60-125)

      The paleoanthropological specialties are legion and sometimes tongue twisters. They include vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, taphonomy, geology, geochronometry and geochronology, palynology, prehistoric archeology, behavioral primatology, the cultural anthropology of human hunters and gatherers, comparative and functional morphology, biomechanics, systematics, evolutionary theory, and molecular biology.¹ Paleoprimatologists are vertebrate paleontologists and other organismal biologists who specialize in the study of fossil apes, monkeys, and prosimians.

      Historically, as a multidisciplinary team effort, paleoanthropology is most firmly rooted at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, where Louis and Mary Leakey attracted a diverse group of scientists to assist in their arduous quest for human origins.² F. Clark...

    • 4 Taproot and Branches of Our Family Tree
      (pp. 126-186)

      UnlessOuranopithecus(includingGraecopithecus) (Figure 3.9), Griphopithcus, orDryopithecusis indeed the proximate ancestor ofAustralopithecus, we have precious few clues to the nature of Late Miocene and earliest Pliocene Hominidae. Indeed, there are only exiguous hominoid bits from the span between 11 Ma and 4 Ma in Africa.¹ In addition toSamburupithecus kiptalami(9.5 Ma),Sahelanthropus tchadensis(6 7 Ma),Orrorin tugenensis(5.8 Ma),Ardipithecus kadabba(?5.2 5.8 Ma), andArdipithecus ramidus(4.4 Ma) (Figure 4.1), they comprise the following bits:

      Lukeino (KNM- LU 335) and Ngorora (KNM- BN 378) molars.

      Lothagam hemimandibular fragment (KNM- LT 329).

      Chemeron proximal...

  6. Part II: Positional and Subsistence Behaviors

    • 5 Apes in Motion
      (pp. 189-224)

      The positional behaviors—posture and locomotion—of apes and the morphologies that underpin them are of special interest to anthropologists because they might provide clues about the precursors and development of human adaptive complexes. Accordingly, we will explore the locomotor movements and postures of living apes and will sketch ideas about how their anatomies are related to them. This not only will introduce vocabulary and concepts that are necessary to comprehend models and scenarios on the evolution of human bipedalism but also will show how wild apes variously gain access to food and lodging sites and traverse their habitats to...

    • 6 Several Ways to Achieve Erection
      (pp. 225-260)

      Bipedalism is not unique to humans, but our particular form of it is distinctive: while most other mammalian bipeds hop or waddle, we stride. Nonetheless, humans share remarkably similar locomotor neural circuits with other mammals, birds, and at least some reptiles.¹ We do not know for certain why it evolved. As mammals go, humans are not very fast runners: an Olympian four-minute miler runs only about 15 miles per hour, though Usian Bolt achieved a speed of 27.45 miles per hour (12.27 meters/second) in a recordsetting 100-meter race.² A pedestrian walking regularly employs a speed of about 4.5 miles per...

    • 7 Hungry and Sleepy Apes
      (pp. 261-303)

      Like the plight of Earth’s millions of homeless and displaced persons, the daily quest for nutriment and safety from predation greatly determines the daily rounds of forest apes. As heterotrophs, hominoids must forage for foods that will provide them with sustaining energy for basic metabolic processes, cell replacement, body growth, and, in females, gestating fetuses, lactation, and transporting dependent youngsters.¹ On balance, daily foraging should not often require more energy than is required to fuel the daily quest, and one also must avoid predators, lengthy and potentially injurious altercations with competitors, weak substrates, deep water, and places infested with parasites...

    • 8 Hunting Apes and Mutualism
      (pp. 304-328)

      One of the most persistent theories about the evolution of hominid bipedalism links it with tool use for hunting and defense. According to the basic man-the-hunter scenario, hominid males hunted prey with weapons and shared meat with females, who serviced them sexually thereby producing more hunters. Language developed so that they could discuss hunting tactics and group movements and to keep intragroup rivalries over meat and mates in check without having to use their weapons on one another. Although the idea had wide appeal for many decades, to some observers it appeared to be little more than a corporate male...

  7. Part III: Hands, Tools, Brains, and Cognition

    • 9 Handy Apes
      (pp. 331-354)

      How many times per day do you employ tools? How long could you go without using a tool? Were you to try to function without tools, surely you would soon realize that your efficiency and in many contexts your well-being have been compromised. Accordingly, evolutionary anthropologists are especially interested in both the tool behavior of nonhuman primates and other animals and the archeological traces of technology as they might inform the sorts of mental and manipulatory capabilities upon which the development of human intelligence and motor skills were developed.¹

      Neogene and Pleistocene fossil anthropoid forelimb bones can provide important clues...

    • 10 Mental Apes
      (pp. 355-394)

      Humans have big brains that they seldom use near full capacity. In gross size, the brains of elephants and whales surpass our brains, but relative to body mass human brains are the largest among placental mammals.¹ Many once presumably unique human qualities are attributable to our big brains: complex technology, insightful problem solving, self-awareness, theory of mind, language, culture, empathy, politics, deception, death awareness, love, and spirituality. Over the past half-century, bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and other animals have chipped away at this arrogant construct to the extent that few items have remained unqualified on the list. Nevertheless, there are...

    • Color Illustrations
      (pp. None)
  8. Part IV: Sociality and Communication

    • 11 Social, Antisocial, and Sexual Apes
      (pp. 397-506)

      Systematic socioecological studies of apes began in the 1930s, when Robert Yerkes inspired Clarence Ray Carpenter to inaugurate an intensive study ofHylobates larin Thailand.¹ Although Carpenter’s project was successful, his informative monograph was singular in the following quarter century. Yerkes also encouraged field studies of western chimpanzees and mountain gorillas that are minimally informative, especially regarding social behavior and structures.² Fortunately, during the past fifty years scientists have collected extensive information about naturalistic social behavior in orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas, and many more populations of gibbons.

      Unlike chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and gibbons, one rarely encounters adult male...

    • 12 Communicative Apes
      (pp. 507-566)

      The remarkable ability of apes to achieve competence in artifactual languages reenergized the imperative to learn what their natural communicative signals mean to conspecific recipients. Have capacities for symbolic communication in ape minds simply laid dormant in their natural, autonomous lives, only to emerge under human-imposed learning regimes?¹ Or did they develop in response to selective factors for other cognitive purposes only to be recruited for artifactual language in laboratory settings? Playback experiments in the wild would seem to be an informative way to complement catalogues of gesture-calls based on observations, recordings, and films of apes that were sometimes included...

  9. Part V: What Makes Us Human?

    • 13 Language, Culture, Ideology, Spirituality, and Morality
      (pp. 569-602)

      The emergence of symbolic thought and activity, particularly language, inHomo sapiensand its underpinnings in the brain constitute one of the grand mysteries that await empirical resolution by scientists from many disciplines.¹ Effective communication between individuals fundamentally requires a means of production by senders and comprehension by receivers. Physically, speech is produced via air propelled from the lungs by the diaphragm and abdominal muscles flowing upward through the trachea and across the laryngeal vocal cords. Laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles, soft palate (velum palatinum), tongue, and lips interrupt the airflow, thereby shaping the vocal emissions into sounds and articulations that...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 603-690)
  11. References
    (pp. 691-1016)
  12. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 1017-1024)
  13. Index
    (pp. 1025-1056)