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Apes: Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Orangutans and Gibbons

Excellent introduction to all species, finely illustrated by the author

By: Ray Hutchins

80 pages, Col illus

Merlin Publications

Hardback | Mar 2011 | #189661 | ISBN-13: 9780954307028
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £12.99 $17/€15 approx

About this book

Excellent, well-illustrated introductory guide to all species and subspecies of gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutan and gibbon, which would also serve as an educational resource. Preliminary sections explain how the apes are related and provide information on biology, ecology, life history, behaviour and physiology.

The bulk of the book is devoted to species accounts: 7 species of Great ape in 4 genera and 16 species of Lesser ape in 4 genera. Each species account contains information on appearance, distribution, population size, conservation, breeding biology and ecology. Each account is laid out as a 2-page spread for easy cross-referencing.

It is the artwork that makes the book stand out. Ray Hutchins brings his skills as an artist to produce attractive, accurate images of all the species.

The title has been endorsed by the Jane Goodall Institute and The Orangutan Foundation.

The most startling aspect of this book, before even opening the front cover, is the colour illustrations. The illustrations are nothing less than beautiful and stand in stiff competition with any justice photographs can do to these majestic primates. The book thoroughly represents each of the ape species in splendid detail, and uses the illustrations to compare morphology between the species, including humans. A relatively unseen, but incredibly useful, comparison.

A foreword from Professor Colin Groves precedes the main body of the book. Such accreditation serves to reinforce the validity of the taxonomies the author presents. Taxonomies, and indeed other encyclopaedic information, are thoroughly researched, and presented in such a way that makes this book extremely accessible to all, regardless of education level. Additionally, the inclusion of bright diagrammatic representations of ape habitats, and interesting historical fact boxes for each species, takes this book away from dense text and into an altogether lighter" understanding of our closest living relatives.

The author begins the book with an overview of what constitutes an ape and then continues with an in-depth look at each ape species and their associated subspecies. The gorillas set the investigation in motion, followed by the chimpanzees, the orangutans, and finally the gibbons. Many of the facts about these animals can seem repetitive, for example, the age range of many gibbons in the wild is similar. Hutchins deals with these repetitions by placing them in engaging "Did you know?" boxes, each one worded differently enough to keep the reader entertained and interested in the more mundane facts, such as the animal's height or arm span.

The book concludes with a "those who care" section detailing the efforts of pioneers in the field, such as Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. This section is a particularly useful reference guide and includes a comprehensive list, with up-to-date contact details and website addresses, of the major conservation groups for each ape species and the broader protection agencies such as WWF.

This is a short book (80 pages) aimed at people who need a quick, reliable reference guide. However, the ability of this book to appeal to a vast audience is possibly one of its greatest assets. The book, both pictorially and factually, bring apes into your living room. One glance at the front cover invites further examination and most people would be unable to resist "sneaking a peak".

The illustrations are the story of this book. Each picture really does paint a thousand words. The book presents many of the facts and a large proportion of the information pictorially, making its interpretation simple, exciting and alluring. It is rare to encounter a book of such design with such a range of accurate information. Many books are either one or the other, text or illustrative. The crossover between the two, as presented in "Apes..." makes it relatively unique.

"Apes..." has mileage and could possibly be the first in a series of books. The author could potentially cover lemurs, New World monkeys and Old World monkeys using the same format. More so, other mammalian species could be incorporated, and even non-mammalian animals, should there be a market. The primate order, in general, sparks peoples' interest, whether at a professional or scientific level or as a curiosity. Therefore in many respects primates warrant a range of books that cover the entire order. Certainly a wealth of primate books exist, none however, quite like the work produced by Hutchins."

- Tara Cooper Queen's University


&b;Dedication and Acknowledgements


Introduction to the Apes

Western Lowland Gorilla
Cross River Gorilla
Mountain Gorilla
Eastern Lowland Gorilla

Western Chimpanzee
Central Chimpanzee or Tschego
Nigerian/Cameroon Chimpanzee
Eastern or Long-Haired Chimpanzee
Bonobo or Pygmy Chimpanzee

Sumatran Orangutan
Bornean Orangutan

Lar Gibbon
Kloss's or Mentawi Gibbon
Agile Gibbon
Bornean White-Bearded Gibbon
Pileated Gibbon
Muller's Bornean Gibbon
Silvery or Moloch Gibbon
Hoolock Gibbon
Yellow or Buff-Cheeked Crested Gibbon
White-Cheeked Gibbon
Black Crested Gibbon
Cao-vit Crested and Hainan Crested Gibbon

&b;Those Who Care

Addresses of Major Ape Conservation Groups

Scientific Names Explained


Index of English and Scientific Species Names&o;

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Ray Hutchins worked as an illustrator with Rolls-Royce (Aero) Limited until 1969 and then moved on to the Ministry of Defence (Naval) and, later, MOD (Army) at Bovington where he was introduced to tanks and fighting vehicles. Unimpressed by the strictures of the Civil Service and the monotony of technical subjects he started as a freelance in 1980 and has not looked back since.

He has a lifetime's experience of illustrating all subjects from technical works including: aircraft, ships, tanks, guns and military vehicles. These include coloured profiles, 3D views and cutaways. He wrote and illustrated "TANKS and Other Fighting Vehicles", considered as one of the best books on the subject. Also, in 2008, he wrote and illustrated WILDFOWL of the Northern Hemisphere, a book, beautifully illustrated, showing all species of Whistling duck, Swan, Goose, Shelduck and Duck, on the water and out of the water.

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