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Another unique species. Patterns in Human Evolutionary Ecology. By Robert Foley. Somerset NJ John Wiley and Sons. 1987. xxii + 313 pp. figures tables indexes. $32

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This book honors his accomplishments in the
field since the 1940s and marks the year of
his 70th birthday and his retirement as Professor and Chairman of the Department of
Human Genetics a t Michigan since its start.
Neel was in every sense a departmental
Head, and not just a Chair. In departmental
meetings and individual contacts he benefitted from discussion and dissent but openly
decreed that in a meeting with N staff present he kept N/2 + 1 votes. In reference (perhaps never in address) he was fondly and
appropriately called the Daimy6 (Japanese
feudal lord), especially by staff members with
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC)
experience in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
William J. Schull, a long-term collaborator
and coauthor with Neel in Ann Arbor and
the ABCC in Japan, opens the book with a
biographical chapter on Neel as scientist,
journalist, and orchidist.
Part I, “The Genetics of Populations,” has
chapters by Cavalli-Sforza on population
structure and a budding process for expansion of hunter-gatherer populations, and by
C.C. Li on inbreeding and the balance between mutation and selection, both topics
being major in Neel’s research.
Part I1 considers some evolutionary problems posed by the structure of DNA. Wethera11 and associates review the a-globin gene
cluster and speculate on the African origins
of early human populations. Felsenfeld et al.
outline the regulation of chicken PA-globin
gene and explain how a small number of
regulator genes may control a large number
of structural genes.
Part I11 discusses the mechanisms of genetic change. Radding shows that Rec A Nucleoprotein Filaments and Networks mediate
both synapsis and chromosomal strand exchange. Holliday reviews the part of gene
conversion in evolution, especially in DNA
repair and the repair of epigenetic defects.
Schimke and colleagues show that overreplication of DNA may result in the rapid
generation of chromosomal aberrations and
The final section, Part IV,considers evolution a t the molecular level. Morris Goodman,
who has done more than anyone else in molecular genetics to identify the taxonomic
place of humanity in nature, takes up the
molecular evidence on the ape subfamily
Homininae. I have added the italics to emphasize the fundamental change Goodman
has wrought-his study of identified DNA
sequences (genes) and their amino acid translations (proteins) demonstrate that Home
Pan-Gorilla belong to the monophyletic
subfamily Homininae, rather than humans
only in the family Hominidae.
Masatoshi Nei outlines stochastic errors in
DNA evolution and molecular phylogeny.
Here the errors indicate mathematic variance rather than wrong thinking.
Walter Fitch proves that a n estimation of
the number of invariable sites is necessary
for the accurate estimation of the number
of nucleotide substitutions since a common
In the concluding paper Daniel Hart1 talks
about evolution and tinkering: the molecular
genetics of bacterial adaption, illustrating
that most new genes are tinkered out of old
parts rather than newly engineered.
The international symposium honoring
James V. Neel, Ph.D., M.D., held in Ann
Arbor, Michigan, June 17-18,1985 was a big
success, and the proceedings published in this
volume are a n important record of current
knowledge on evolution and the new genetics.
Department of Anthropology
University of New Mexico and
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Santa Fe, New Mexico
By Robert
Foley. Somerset, N J John Wiley and Sons.
1987. xxii + 313 pp., figures, tables, indexes. $32.95 (paper).
lution discuss principles of evolutionary
ecology, but none that I know of gives it top
priority. This book presents evolutionary
ecology first and then shows how ancestors
of Homo sapiens (“another unique species”)
may be understood to have evolved within
those principles. Our own species and its history are considered neither more nor less
unique than others; every species, according
to the author’s view, follows a n evolutionary
path contingent on its history and its environmental interactions.
This study of human evolution offers a n
alternative orientation to the fossil-based approach with which we are most familiar. As
such, it is valuable for students and practitioners alike. Most textbooks of human evo-
The book reads like a good text, but Foley
does not think it can replace traditional texts
that focus on fossils: T h e book should therefore not be treated as a straightforward textbook, but more as an ecological and evolutionary companion to an outline of human
evolution” (p. xvi). I believe, however, that
the book could stand as the central text in an
advanced course in human evolution if a traditional introductory course served as a
The central focus is upon the period of hominid radiation of 1 to 5 million years ago, a
period that is crucial in the development of
hominid characteristics and that also has
produced many fossil finds in recent decades.
It also offers particularly insightful material
on the preceding period of ape radiation and
contraction, a period that has been equally
productive of fossils and new interpretations.
Foley’s approach offers intriguing ideas about
the phenomenon of the radiation and ascendancy of the Old World monkeys, an event
that occurred at the time that apes appeared
to diminish in species and numbers.
Early chapters focus on theory and are perhaps somewhat dry and repetitive, though
judgment on these issues may vary from one
reader to another, depending on background
and tastes. Later chapters consider ecological
attributes of hominids before focusing on features of the environments in which early
hominid fossils have been identified. Foley
postulates an association between radiation
of the hominids and specific ecological characteristics within Africa such as change in
precipitation, attendant variations in vegetation and fauna, and existence of many microenvironments. Foley offers a detailed look
at the climates and habitats of Africa in the
Pliocene and takes into account seasonal as
well as long-term climatic changes. The goal
is to develop a predictive, or at least an explanatory, model in which the emergence of
the genus Homo can be seen as a consequence of its history and its relationship to
its total environment.
All of this makes very good reading, but
testing these hypotheses is difficult. If it were
possible to erase all that is known about the
distribution of hominid fossils of the Pliocene, one might develop a “blind” hypothesis
about what speciation events to expect, and
then proceed to test it. But it is not possible,
and Foley does not try to convince us that he
can do it. Fortunately, at least from this reviewer’s perspective, the usefulness of the
approach and of theory of this type does not
depend on whether such a test can be made.
As is to be expected in texts on human
evolution, particularly those focused on the
Pliocene, the author’s preferred taxonomic
scheme will not meet with everyone’s liking.
Particularly novel is his introduction of the
concept of parallel evolution within different
hominid lineages, such that A. boisei and A.
robustus are categorized in different lineages
and are seen as the products of similar pressures, the former in East Africa and the latter in South Africa. However, Foley is not
wedded to any particular scheme so much as
to the concept that if speciation occurred
there must be niche partitioning involved
and it ought to be possible to determine what
ecological variables brought it about. Foley
postulates that different foraging strategies,
particularly during the dry season of the
year, produced niche partitioning. After separation, in his model, competition and character displacement, frequency-dependent selection, and phylogenetic inertia increased
the morphological distinction of each group.
The book’s many charts, figures, and tables
are for the most part very well done and will
prove as useful to instructors in human evolution classes as will the text, whether it is
required or recommended. However, there is
a misnumbering, which should have been
caught in the proof stage, on a figure (1.31,
showing relative positions of the continents
in the Eocene. Additionally, there are a few
grammatical quirks that I found annoying,
particularly the lack of agreement in a number of subjects and verbs. For example Foley
writes “the other group are . . . ” (p. 155) and
“Emphasis should be on what a species is,
not what they might . . . ” (p. 156) and “a
battery of techniques are . . . ” (p. 194). Occasionally, apparent typographical errors contribute ambiguity as to the intended meaning
(as affect for effect, p. 245) and in at least one
case a reference is not listed (Pilbeam in
press, p. 155, is not found in the list of references). These errors are not numerous, however, and may be corrected in a second
edition. And I do hope that the book will see
later editions in which advances of the theory as well as new fossil finds are incorporated. Furthermore, I hope that the book will
have a positive effect on other texts that could
benefit from a stronger dose of ecological
Department of Anthropology
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon
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