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Baboon ecology African field research. By Stuart A. Altmann and Jeanne Altmann. vii + 22 pp. figures tables bibliography. University of Chicago Press Chicago. 1971. $12

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ble today because there is considerable have not been identified. At the present
evidence to support the concept that “the time it is not known whether unique morbrain is a whole, highly differentiated phological arrangements in man’s brain
system whose parts are involved in differ- are responsible correlates (Geschwind) or
ent phases of the unified whole.” Signifi- whether neurophysiological linkages and
cant advances in an understanding of the patterns are exclusively the crucial facassociation areas of the cortex may come tors (Lenneberg) to his special linguistic
soon - predications indicate that, in talents. Evidence is available that the
neurobiology, the 1970’s may be known as brain mechanisms subserving language
the decade of the association cortex. In must be widely distributed in the brain.
the meantime, this statement may serve Hence until more basic data are uncovas fuel for thought, especially for those ered, this problem is “in limbo.”
(4) Dominant hemisphere. Man is
interested in behavioral studies: “One has
to drop the idea that perception is the wit- unique in the expression of a functional
nessing of incoming signals and instead asymmetry. This lateralization is apparthink of perception as an integral adap- ently not present at birth; it appears posttive reaction to the demands made by the natally. The dichotomy between “domiworld by way of the receptive organs” nant” and “non-dominant” hemispheres
is less definite than was formerly held. In
(Donald MacKay).
(2) Patterns of behavior. With the pos- general, the so-called “dominant hemisible exception of language and its cor- sphere,” usually the left, is associated
relates, the studies of the behavior in with right hand preference and such
living primates in natural or experimental verbal skills as performance of speech.
settings seems to support the thesis that The “non-dominant hemisphere,” usually
the behavioral patterns of man are essen- the right, is associated with such nontially similar to those in the living homi- verbal skills as tactile recognition of texnoids and monkeys. Differences are pri- ture and complex patterns (Sperry, Gazmarily in degree and not in kind. Hence it zaniga). Often, no relationships between
can be tentatively assumed that the dif- handedness and cerebral dominance is
ferences that do exist can be readily ex- demonstrable.
plained to be associated with gradual
modifications of the neuroanatomical and
College of P h y s i c i a n s a n d Surgeons,
neurophysiologic substrates of the nervous
N e w York City
system during primate evolution. These
alterations occurred within the complexities of the feedback, feed-forward and
AFRICAN FIELD REreciprocal circuits involved in the inter- BABOON ECOLOGY:
locking of the cerebral cortex with subSEARCH. By Stuart A. Altmann and
Jeanne Altmann. vii + 220 pp., figures,
cortical processing centers. “Highest levtables, bibliography. University of Chiels of neural activities” must not be used,
as is often done, as synonymous with the
cago Press, Chicago. 1971. $12.00
expression “higher cortical function.”
The cerebral cortex does not function independently from subcortical nuclear
This is a book with three functions: to
structures. Another facet influencing be- describe the baboon population studied by
havior is the role of the interaction of the authors, to compare it with other
hormones and the nervous system. For recently studied populations and in so
example, some steroid hormones (estradiol doing provide a review of our knowledge
and corticosterone) not only act upon of baboons up to about mid-1968, and
cerebral cortical neurons of the limbic finally it will provide a do-it-yourself balobe, but pass directly to the nuclei of boon watching manual €or future students.
these neurons to influence gene action.
The study does not, I think, add a great
(3) Language. The unraveling of the deal that is completely new to our knowlcomplexities of the problem of language edge of baboons in a qualitative sense,
is blocked because the crucial neuroana- but it is certainly the best - effectively
tomical and neurophysiological correlates the only - available quantitative analysis
of a monkey population’s relationship with
its environment. Not only is there a lot of
hard data, but we learn exactly haw each
measure used was calculated, and a great
deal of attention is paid to the possibility
of bias due to all forms of incompleteness,
which means that the conclusions reached
here are likely to remain valid and comparable to future studies for a long time.
It is a leisurely book. Free from the
journal editor’s eternal cry of “is that
table really necessary” we follow the authors as they think aloud about their data,
presenting figures and calculation whether the answer turns out to be significant
or not. It is occasionally irritating to
follow a detailed account of method, estimate of bias, and three rather complicated
figures to find at the end no suggestion
of why one might be interested in knowing about, say, progression rates. In the
end, however, one becomes competitive,
the challenge being to spot a stone the
authors left unturned. For example, having discussed the different maturation
and mortality rates in the two sexes i t
follows, I think, that from the observed
sex ratio of adults one could calculate
the average adult longevity, an important
parameter about which short term studies
usually tell us little. Some calculations
are presented with excessive accuracy, and
here the authors set a bad example. For
example home range of the main troop
is given as 9.299 square miles. Since 0,001
of a square mile is about 3000 square
yards, perhaps a tenth of the scatter of a
baboon troop when foraging, one decimal
place would surely have been more realistic. It is also unfortunate that metric
measures were not used as these will certainly be generally in use before this book
has outlived its usefulness.
The book is extremely well laid out for
easy reference, as befits a review, and is
written in a pleasantly clear style which
will greatly enhance its real contribution
to the subject. The occasional scientific
pomposity jars all the more in this context -I do not find the belly of a baboon
more clearly described as its “ventral
flexure .”
It is above all the would-be field worker
who will find this book useful, because i t
presents a complete worked example of
how to set about the job, how to organise
data so that sources of bias may be found
and eliminated, and how to calculate and
express results so that parameters may be
exactly understood. Some standardization
in the presentation of field data is very
much needed. On the other hand, much of
the method is only possible to follow in
the superb study site chosen by the authors, and I know of no other place in
East Africa where it is possible to follow
undisturbed baboons for the whole day in
a car. The baboons of open country are
the easiest primate to study in the field,
and there are many problems, especially
in long term studies, which are probably
impractical in other monkeys. The Altmanns and their students are continuing
their Amboseli study (and as Amboseli
has since become an ecological disaster
area because of changing water tables,
with baboons and other animals drastically reduced in numbers, their future
reports should make a fascinating sequel
to the present volume). It is to be hoped
that others will follow until we can understand how at least one species may modify
its strategy in relation to a wide variety
of habitats. But the very theory which
led anthropologists to start the current
interest in baboons also requires information on forest living monkeys. At present our knowledge is very uneven, with
a fair amount of material available on
open country species and very little indeed on the much more numerous forest
forms. If we looked to this book as a possible primer for forest studies, it would
be useful only in some limited ways. I am
not suggesting that the Altmanns should
have written a different book, but reading i t as I did immediately on returning
from a field study in West African forest,
I was forcibly struck with the different
preoccupations which must necessarily absorb workers in the two types of environment. The forest field worker must be an
opportunist - and an indefatigable optimist. To try and follow the clock and
eliminate sampling biases as shown in
the baboon study would produce acute
depression and almost no acceptable data
in most sites, where every few minutes’
worth of contact seems precious. Under
these circumstances rather different problems call for mathematical treatment.
Perhaps one of the major practical prob-
which is then expanded upon in a paragraph of two. This is sometimes a statement of fact, sometimes a theory, or just
a brief outline of a particular problem.
For reference, these statements do make
it easier to find any particular topic, but
frequently they seem more dogmatic than
warranted by the evidence. However, they
do stimulate critical thinking on the reader’s part. Second, the mathematical proofs
and more complex equations are put in
at the end of each chapter.
Un i versi t y of California,
This makes the reading of each chapter
more even and stresses the applications
of the mathematics to real data without
interruptions by long proofs of the reasons why this particular equation fits.
By L. L. Cavalli-Sforza and W. F. Bod- For too long population genetics has conmer. mi
965 pp., figures, tables, sisted of elegant mathematical models
problems, bibliography, indices. W. H. or theorems whose applications to natural
Freeman, San Francisco. 1971. $27.50 populations are frequently either trivial
or non-existent. However, biological sci(cloth).
ence is now attaining the same position
In recent years such rapid advances with regard to mathematical analysis as
have been made in the application of pop- the physical sciences. The mathematiulation genetics theory to human varia- cians can treat the models of physical
tion that a great need has arisen for a phenomena as an axiom system and demajor work covering the field. Previously rive theorems or conclusions about it,
human examples may have been sporadi- but at the same time the physicists can
cally introduced into texts covering the just use the formulas without having to
population genetics of all organisms or derive or prove them.
Although many of the formulas of poppopulation genetics was included, almost
as an afterthought, in works on all aspects ulation genetics are quite simple, e.g.,
of human genetics. With this book human q = p / s , they do form the basic theoretipopulation genetics seems to have finally cal model for the understanding of gecome of age as a distinct science as op- netic variation; and the major thrust of
posed to biochemical, clinical, or other this book is to illustrate the utility of the
fields within genetics. Although expected- formulas for the analysis of data. This
ly it does emphasize the authors’ own emphasis is changing population genetics
work and specialities, the book is compre- from a branch of mathematics into a scihensive without being a completely ex- ence; and, as the authors point out, the
haustive treatment of the subject; and main part of the book requires not matheanyone working on almost any problem matical expertise but only a knowledge
in human population genetics can find of elementary algebra. The book is dedithe appropriate model and formulas in it. cated to R. A. Fisher, but, without trying
The rapid developments in the field would to diminish his contribution, I think its
seem to imply quick obsolescence, but approach owes more to Haldane. Haldane
despite this possibility and future com- developed many of the theoretical formupetitors, I think this book will remain a las of population genetics, but in so many
of his papers he began with a problem of
major source for some time.
There are some innovations in format, genetic variation which actually existed
which I am sure will have their detractors, in some species. His theory was an attempt
but given the major aims of the authors to explain the problem, and frequently
I think the innovations are very useful. his papers ended with more questions
First, within the nine chapters each topic than answers. Similarly, Cavalli-Sforza and
is introduced with an italicized statement, Bodmer analyze much of human genetic
lems in primatology is that of collecting
and presenting data from different habitats in ways that allow meaningful comparisons. The present book is an excellent
start on this problem in one part of the
field. I hope i t will be used not only as a
model for future baboon studies but as a
model primer to be copied for other species in other habitats, which present different problems.
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figuren, jeanne, altman, university, chicago, bibliography, 1971, vii, research, baboons, africa, field, tablet, stuart, pres, ecology
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