By: Anne Innis Dagg
225 pages, no illustrations
How do young and old social animals view each other? Are aged animals perceived by others as weaker? Or wiser? What is the relationship between age and power among social animals?
Taking a cue from Frans de Waal's seminal work examining the lives of chimpanzees, Anne Innis Dagg in this pioneering study probes the lives of older mammals and birds. Synthesizing the available scientific research and anecdotal evidence, she explores how aging affects the lives and behavior of animals ranging from elk to elephants and gulls to gorillas, examining such topics as longevity; how others in a group view senior members in regard to leadership, wisdom, and teaching; mating success; interactions with mates and offspring; how aging affects dominance; changes in aggressive behavior and adaptability; and death and dying.
At once instructive and compelling, this theme-spanning study reveals the complex nature of maturity in scores of social species and shows that animal behavior often displays the same diversity we find in ourselves.
I feel grateful to Dagg for trying to bring the strands of a relatively unknown literature together. PsycCRITIQUES 2009 Dagg's book should be a corrective to us all; species that lose or ignore the contributions of their older members do so at their peril. Literary Review of Canada 2009 Humans and chimps, it turns out, value age in sexual partners very differently. In our species youth is prized, but among chimps the reverse is the case. -- Tim Flannery New York Review of Books 2010
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