Thursday, March 6, 2014

New Titles

1) Jachowski, David. Wild Again: The Struggle to Save the Black-footed Ferret. 2014. University of California Press. Hardbound: 241 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This engaging personal account of one of America's most contested wildlife conservation campaigns has as its central character the black-footed ferret. Once feared extinct, and still one of North America's rarest mammals, the black-footed ferret exemplifies the ecological, social, and political challenges of conservation in the West, including the risks involved with intensive captive breeding and reintroduction to natural habitat.
      David Jachowski draws on more than a decade of experience working to save the ferret. His unique perspective and informative anecdotes reveal the scientific and human aspects of conservation as well as the immense dedication required to protect a species on the edge of extinction.
      By telling one story of conservation biology in practice—its routine work, triumphs, challenges, and inevitable conflicts—this book gives readers a greater understanding of the conservation ethic that emerged on the Great Plains as part of one of the most remarkable recovery efforts in the history of the Endangered Species Act.

RECOMMENDATION: Anyone with an interest in this species or in endangered species should read this book.

2) Tuttle, Russell H.. Apes and Human Evolution. 2014. Harvard University Press. Hardbound: 1056 pages. Price: $59.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: 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 influential theory that men are essentially killer apes—sophisticated but instinctively aggressive and destructive beings.
Situating humans in a broad context, Tuttle musters convincing 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 in ape niches.
This encyclopedic 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.
RECOMMENDATION:  For those with a technical interest in the subject.

1 comment:

  1. Very beautiful book, but unfortunately outdated: Tuttle seems to believe that our ancestors simply stood up, but the evolution of wading/walking on 2 legs ("bipedality"), of upright posture (vertical lumbar spine), of "aligned" build (head-spine-legs in 1 line), of very long & straight legs etc. - which are all different things - is a lot more logical (in view of the comparative evidence) but also more complex than Tuttle thinks, google "econiche Homo" or
    Tuttle mentions (& misinterprets) a 24-years-old & very short publication of mine (1990 Hum.Evol.5:295-7 "African ape ancestry"), he even calls me "she", but has apparently not read anything else I wrote...
    --marc verhaegen