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The Evolution of Thought: Evolutionary Origins of Great Ape Intelligence

  • A comprehensive evaluation of the reasons for and the nature of great apes' exceptional intelligence
  • Gives conclusions that will strongly influence our understanding of the evolution of human intelligence
  • Exceptionally broad range of contributors evaluating great ape intelligence in evolutionary perspective (psychologists, paleontologists, biologists, and anthropologists)

By: Anne E Russon(Editor), David R Begun(Editor)

384 pages, b/w photos, illustrations, 48 tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Aug 2007 | #170528 | ISBN-13: 9780521039925
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £31.99 $42/€36 approx
Hardback | Dec 2004 | #142748 | ISBN: 0521783356
Out of Print Details

About this book

Research on the evolution of higher intelligence rarely combines data from fields as diverse as paleontology and psychology. The Evolution of Thought does just that, synthesizing the approaches of hominoid cognition, psychology, language studies, ecology, evolution, paleoecology and systematics toward an understanding of great ape intelligence. Leading scholars from these fields evaluate the relevance of research. The result is the most comprehensive survey to date of the various causes and consequences of cognitive evolution in great apes.

Originally published in 2004.

"[...] a good overview of the present state of research."
- Gorilla Journal

"The book's strengths are several. The editors had a clear idea of what they wanted from their interdisciplinary encounter and they framed the process with welcoming introductory chapters and a masterly concluding one. Ethologists will find accessible even the most esoteric data [...] most chapters make a real effort to be understood by non-specialists [...] this is a brave and provocative book. It is a call to arms for true-disciplinary collaboration. Few ethologists know palaeontology, but all will learn from this bridge-building effort."
- Ethology

"it may be impossible to travel back in time in order to reconstruct exactly the sequence of events that shaped the cognitive architecture of our nearest living and extinct relatives, but books like this one do a good job of allowing us to imagine the most likely scenarios, and of exposing gaps in knowledge that have to be filled for the complete picture to emerge."
- Primates


List of contributors

1. Evolutionary reconstructions of great ape intelligence Anne E. Russon
2. Enhanced cognitive capacity as a contingent fact of hominid phylogeny David R. Begun

Part I. Cognition in Living Great Apes: Introduction Anne E. Russon:
3. The manual skills and cognition that lie behind hominid tool use Richard W. Byrne
4. The cognitive complexity of social organisation and socialisation in wild baboons and chimpanzees: guided participation, socialising interactions and event representation Sue Taylor Parker
5. Gestural communication in the great apes Joanna Blake
6. Great ape cognitive systems Anne E. Russon

Part II. Modern Great Ape Adaptation: Introduction Anne E. Russon:
7. What's in a brain? The question of a distinctive brain anatomy in great apes Carol E. MacLeod
8. Life histories and the evolution of large brain size in great apes Caroline Ross
9. Evolution of complex feeding techniques in primates: is this the origin of great ape intelligence? Gen Yamakoshi
10. The special demands of great ape locomotion and posture Kevin D. Hunt
11. Great ape social systems Carel P. van Schaik, Signe Preuschoft and David P. Watts
12. Diet and foraging of the great apes: ecological constraints on their social organisations and implications for their divergence Juichi Yamagiwa

Part III. Fossil Great Ape Adaptations: Introduction David R. Begun:
13. Paleoenvironments and the evolution of adaptability in great apes Richard Potts
14. Cranial evidence and the evolution of intelligence in fossil apes David R. Begun and László Kordos
15. Life history and cognitive evolution in the apes Jay Kelley
16. Fossil hominoid diets, extractive foraging and the origins of great ape intelligence Michelle Singleton
17. Paleontology, terrestriality and the intelligence of great apes Daniel L. Gebo
18. Body size and intelligence in hominoid evolution Carol V. Ward, Mark Flinn and David R. Begun

Part IV. Integration:
19. Evolutionary origins of great ape intelligence: an integrated view Anne E. Russon and David R. Begun

Author index
Species index
Subject index

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Anne E. Russon is a Professor of Psychology at Glendon College of York University in Toronto, Canada. David Begun is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.

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