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Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence, Culture, and Individualized Societies Hardcover – March 15, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


This the latest contribution to the debate over what animals understand about their social environments and how this influences their behavior and organisation. It comprises 18 papers and several case studies by 52 prominent scientists or promising young researchers. The topics covered range from life history and cognitive evolution in primates, laughter and smiling in mammals, and vocal communication in wild parrots, to questions of emotional recognition in chimpanzees and the possibility of culture in killer whales. The volume's most notable contribution is that it brings together a collection of studies on a wide range of species and topics in an effort to provide the groundwork for future synthetic work on the organising principles underlying complex animal societies...Credit is due to De Waal and Tyack for putting together this book...It should be of interest to anyone curious about animal behavior. (Jessica Flack Times Higher Education Supplement 2004-06-18)

This excellent collection is the outcome of a conference held in 2000 under the auspices of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Judging by the published results, the conference itself must have been a rich occasion. It must be a rare gathering that draws together for any purpose behavioural scientists specializing in such vastly different animal groups...In this case, the exercise brings a remarkably wide comparative perspective to bear on animal social complexity. Consequently, the reader is given a wealth of fine descriptive detail, but is also encouraged to step back from the detail and reflect in broader evolutionary terms on the relationship between intelligence, culture, and the cognitive demands of social relationships in individualized societies. (Hilary Callan The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

Be prepared...for a book that is like a small library itself and one that will free you of some illusions about human uniqueness...In summary, this book is an important contribution to our knowledge of intelligence and culture in non-human species. (Pouwel Slurink Human Ethology Bulletin 2004-01-01)


This book is pure gold. It takes a broad view of the fashionable--and indeed, perpetually interesting question--how animal intelligence relates to social behavior. The contents range from sperm whales to starlings, elephants' treatment of a dead calf, and chimpanzees' use of different barks to identify different kinds of food. From it all emerges the current state of thinking on animal imitation, semantics, and the meaning and origins of culture. (Alison Jolly, author of Lucy's Legacy)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (March 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674009290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674009295
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,801,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on September 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to read this book, it looked like an excellent compilation of interesting research from a wide range of fields. However, I was dissappointed by the contents. Most chapters are just reviews of the general research of the authors, and some hardly address the idea of intelligence and culture. Some authors spend the whole chapter just reviewing their research, and then in the last paragraph run over their thoughts on if there is intelligence or culture in their study species in just a few sentences. Having said that, some chapters are golden and well worth the read. Because this book is relatively cheap for a science book, I would say that the few insightful chapters make it worth the cost, but overall it was not as informative or interesting as I had hoped.
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