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Primate Cognition [Paperback]

Michael Tomasello , Josep Call

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Book Description

Aug. 1 1997
Soon after Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution, primate cognition became a major area of research. In this book, Michael Tomasello and Josep Call assess the current state of our knowledge about the cognitive skills of non-human primates. They integrate empirical findings on the topic from the beginning of the century to the present, placing this research in theoretical perspective. They begin with an examination of the way primates adapt to their physical world, mostly for the purpose of foraging. The second part of the book looks at primate social knowledge and focuses on the adaptations of primates to their social world for purposes of competition and cooperation. In the third section, the authors construct a general theory of primate cognition, distinguishing the cognition in primates from that of other mammals (human in particular). Their broad-ranging theory provides a guide for future research. Primate Cognition is an enlightening exploration of the cognitive capacities of our nearest primate relatives and a useful resource for a wide range of researchers and students in psychology, behavioral biology, primatology, and anthropology.

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""Fin de siecle primatology is an exuberant, contentious, and ambitious discipline. . . . Those who took classes in primatology as few as 5 to 10 years ago would not recognize many of the current issues, a short list of examples being sexual selection, phylogenetic weighting in comparative analyses, gut-brain tradeoffs in the evolution of energy and tissue allocation, and reciprocity and retribution. Primate Cognition is a superb example of this new, reinvigorated primatology. . . . Tomasello and Call accomplish a meticulous merging of primate behavior, recent insights from cognitive and developmental psychology on the multidimensionality of cognitive abilities, and a good understanding of primate evolution to critically analyze what is and is not yet known about cognition in nonhuman primates."--American Journal of Human Biology

"[The authors] divide the volume into fourteen chapters organized into three parts: Knowledge of the Physical World, Knowledge of the Social World, and A Theory of Primate Cognition, which summarizes their conclusions and briefly reviews human cognitive development. The book includes an introduction to the Order Primates (as well as an appendix on their taxonomy) and a brief history of studies of primate cognition."--The Quarterly Review of Biology

"This book is a careful and critical review of the existing literature on the cognitive capacities of primates and other mammals and, at the same time, is a launching platform for a very important theory on what is unique for primates with respect to other mammals and what is unique for human beings with respect to nonhuman primates. . . . What makes this book appealing to any kind of reader and extremely useful as an educational tool is the way in which the material is organized, critically described, and summarized in useful tables and summaries. . . . In addition, the book has 50 pages of references, an authors' index, a species index, and a subject index, as well as a multitude of figures and photographs . . . I strongly recommend this marvellous book to ethologists, animal psychologists, developmental psychologists, cognitive scientists, and anyone just interested in primates."--The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

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88 halftones, 34 linecuts

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The Western intellectual tradition was created by people living on a continent with no other indigenous primates. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best reference on (non-human) primate cognition research June 26 2001
By Mark Mills - Published on
This is a very technical work compared to the 'popular' talking apes literature. One the other hand, it is not as detailed as "Chimpanzee Politics : Power and Sex Among Apes" by Frans De Waal. The book comprehensively covers all non-human primate cognition research as of 1996. The authors do a masterful job of keeping their own opinions from dominating the text, allowing the hundreds individual studies to stand more-or-less on their own.
The book is organized along Piaget's outline of cognitive development. It is broken into 3 major sections: (1) knowledge of the physical world, (2) knowledge of the social world and (3) a theory of cognition. I found the first section the best researched and interesting. The last sections is underdeveloped, but represents the state of research. Overall, the book is expertly crafted.
A necessary reference for any serious about primate research.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good...for its time Nov. 6 2012
By Mamool - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book provides a great overview of what we know (or what we knew) about primate cognition, though not all of it is up to date on current research. It is used in my primate evolution course and provides an excellent outline on how to approach primate cognition and understand each aspect it consists of. Just be ready to do your own research on topics to see what new research has said to support (or refute) its claims
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a great reference Jan. 22 2002
By Tiger Buchman - Published on
Read the other review. Other than telling the world how much I love this book, I don't have much more to add, except that this is a reference I actually use on a weekly basis.

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