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The Comparative Approach in Evolutionary Anthropology and Biology

By: Charles L Nunn

380 pages, 20 b/w photos, 111 b/w line drawings, 14 tables

University of Chicago Press

Paperback | Nov 2011 | #192159 | ISBN-13: 9780226608990
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £34.50 $45/€39 approx
Hardback | Dec 2011 | #192158 | ISBN-13: 9780226608983
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £77.50 $102/€87 approx

About this book

Comparison is fundamental to evolutionary anthropology. When scientists study chimpanzee cognition, for example, they compare chimp performance on cognitive tasks to the performance of human children on the same tasks. And when new fossils are found, such as those of the tiny humans of Flores, scientists compare these remains to other fossils and contemporary humans. Comparison provides a way to draw general inferences about the evolution of traits and has long been the cornerstone of efforts to understand biological and cultural diversity. Individual studies of fossilized remains, living species, or human populations are the essential units of analysis in a comparative study; bringing these elements into a broader comparative framework creates a means of testing adaptive hypotheses and generating new ones.

With this book, Charles L. Nunn intends to ensure that evolutionary anthropologists and organismal biologists have the tools to realize the potential of comparative research. Nunn provides a wide-ranging investigation of the comparative foundations of evolutionary anthropology in past and present research, including studies of animal behavior, biodiversity, linguistic evolution, allometry, and cross-cultural variation. He also points the way to the future, exploring the new phylogeny-based comparative approaches and offering a how-to manual for scientists who wish to incorporate these new methods into their research.

A very impressive volume. I found myself again and again wanting to revisit many old questions and explore just as many new ones - truly delicious food for thought.
- William L. Jungers, Stony Brook University

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Charles L. Nunn is associate professor in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is coeditor of "Evolution of Sleep: Phylogenetic and Functional Perspectives" and coauthor of "Infectious Diseases in Primates: Behavior, Ecology and Evolution".

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