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Human adaptation. A functional interpretation. By A. Roberto Frisancho. Ann Arbor The University of Michigan Press. 1981. xi + 209 pp. figures tables references index. $9

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354
BOOK REVIEWS
HUMAN
ADAPTATION.
A FUNCTIONAL
INTERPRE-interaction of hypoxic and possibly nutritional
stress, and cross-acclimatization is presented
TATION. By A. Roberto Frisancho. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. 1981. in terms of high-altitude influence on lowxi + 209 pp., figures, tables, references, in- altitude athletic performance.
Throughout these chapters, there is regular
dex. $9.95 (paper).
but brief mention made of research methods.
The complex questions involving interactions
Some have observed an “obvious discomfort” between physiological and behavioral response
in the writing of biological anthropologists to environmental stress are occasionally and
dealing with the subject of physiology (e.g., rightly brought up, but nowhere are they exPaul Baker, in Damon, 1975). A reading of amined in depth nor with particular insight.
Human Adaptation helps alleviate some of that However, one task that this book carries off
discomfort. Considering the massive amounts with high marks is the presentation of conflictof data produced during the International Bio- ing research results, and the notion that human
logical Program, this book appears at an op- responses to stress are not simple, nor uniform
portune time, and provides a chance to reflect between populations, nor monocausal, nor fully
about just what the field of physiological an- understood (i.e., future research directions).
The major problem with the material on rethropology consists of and what its future disponse to cold is Frisancho’s reliance for part of
rections might be.
In fourteen chapters, Frisancho presents a his data on a reference that itself is poorly doccondensed view of principles and definitions in umented and presented (LeBlanc’sMan in the
the study of human adaptation, and reviews Cold).There is also a curious omission of nearly
human response to heat, cold, solar radiation, all work in an earlier book that contributed to
high altitude, and undernutrition. The reviews defining the scope of physiological anthropoloare nicely and usefully organized, with a liberal gy (Damon, 1975).
The final three chapters are devoted to conpresentation of data in 107 charts, diagrams,
and graphs. Each chapter is followed by arela- sideration of human response to undernutrition,
tively extensive bibliography. There are a few including experimental starvation, chronic untypos (such as the misplaced decimal point on dernutrition, undernutrition and growth, and
Table 12-8)and a few interpretations of prima- changes in disease expression due to Westernry literature with which I disagree (one cannot ization of dietary habits. These chapters no
conclude from the reference cited that the se- doubt contain Frisancho’s perception of future
verity of atherosclerosis is greater in Bogota, research directions in physiological anthropolMexico, and Guatemala than for their counter- ogy, directions that contain political ramificaparts situated at sea level, see p. 163). The tions as well. Thus, we read that progress in
omission of a glossary may require some to keep improving nutritional status must include improved disease control; that the improvement
a medical dictionary close at hand.
For the topics of cold, heat, and high altitude, of nutritional status may take longer than once
successive chapters first present the nature of thought due to intergenerational effects; and
the stress (e.g., high altitude exposes the indi- that the improvement of maternal nutrition
vidual to hypoxia, high solar radiation, cold, should be an important aspect of any governlow humidity, high winds, limited nutritional ment’s public policy. However, the most signibase, and rough terrain), the physiological sys- ficant new directions deal with the biological
tems effected under “normal” conditions (e.g., effects’of Westernization of dietary habits and
heat stress affects vasodilation, heat conduc- disease expression. Research is needed into the
tance, countercurrent circulatory responses, specific mechanisms whereby change in food
heat storage, sweating, dehydration, blood cir- consumption and in the varieties of foods used
culation, thirst, sodium adjustments), and then lead to change in, for example, the severity of
the range of responses as seen in native, non- sickle cell anemia, cancer, and diverticulosis.
Not included in this book, but foreshadowed
native, and migratory populations. Throughout, the emphasis is on detecting responses en- by the last three chapters, is another “new”
hancing functional adaptations. Special topics direction in physiological anthropology, which
are presented in the five chapters devoted to is the study of human physiological response to
human response to high altitude environments urban, industrialized environments, and the
reflecting Frisancho’s research interests in this stresses of rapid change, noise, congestion,
area. Thus, prenatal and postnatal growth and crowding, and environmental pollution. Might
development are reviewed as influenced by the this be the material of a forthcoming volume?
355
BOOK REVIEWS
In sum, Human Adaptation is a very functional and well-organizedbook,aimed at seniors
or new graduate students in physical anthropology, but also of use for environmental physiologists and researchers interested in the
adaptive significance of human physical Variation. I t is well worth its price.
G. HURLICH
MARSHALL
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington
LITERATURE CITED
Damon, A (4)
(1975)Physiological Anthropology. New York
Oxford University Press.
THEHUNTERS
OR THE HUNTED?
AN INTRODUC-butchering, eating and disposing of the reTION TO AFRICAN
CAVETAPHONOMY.
By c. K. mains of domestic goats, and cheetahs conBrain. Chicago: The University of Chicago suming baboons, sheep, and antelopes. SubPress. 1981. ix + 365 pp., figures, tables, ap- stantial portions of the skeletons are destroyed
pendix, references, index. $35.00 (cloth).
totally by the humans, but cheetahs tend to
chew up baboon vertebrae completely while
leaving bovid vertebrae essentially intact. SurThis book brings together the findings of a vival of skeletal parts is thus a function of denversatile investigator who has been working sity and edibility of bone, and the capacities of
many years to interpret the hominid-bearing meat-eaters to break them up.
Next the animal remains from a few human
cave deposits in South Africa. It is a mine of information for professional students of the fossil cave sites in southern Africa, often occupied for
record of human evolution, but the narrative is many thousands of years, are analyzed for inso clearly written that it should also capture sights into accumulation patterns and contrithe interest of undergraduates with a back- butions to diets of Stone Age peoples. Tables
ground in physical anthropology. On top of this, break the information down by skeletal parts,
it is a bargain at present-day book prices. The and, where possible, by minimum numbers of
page size is a generous 11 314 x 8 118 inches, individuals of species or of antelope weight
there are 226 numbered figures, including many classes. Thousands of flakes from long bones
photographs, plus, by my count, 125 unnum- are also classified by length, which is usually
bered sketches depicting living and extinct an- quite short. Analysis by layers of these and
imals and scenes recounted in the text. There other sites indicates that fragmentation of
are also 121 tables in an appendix, and exten- bones increased with the passage of time. The
sive catalogs of fossil remains and other data tables in this chapter, and succeeding chapters
incorporated into the text. The book is thus a on bone accumulations by animals, are summasubstantial reference work as well as an account rized in the text by histograms and clever semiof research; it should prove valuable to special- silhouette figures illustrating the kinds of
ists as well as those with a general interest in animals. These are especially helpful if one is
less than totally familiar with African fauna.
the hominid fossil record.
Several African carnivores use caves, and
The text is divided into two major parts. Part
1, “A Guide to the Interpretation of Bone Accu- Brain has observed the habits of hyaenas, leopmulations in African Caves,” recounts Brain’s ards, and raptorial birds, especially owls, and
efforts to understand the natural processes summarizes numerous other investigations.
and animal activities that may have affected There is also an account of bone-accumulating
the deposits. Much of this describes research habits of African porcupines, which gnaw on
of his own published elsewhere. These publica- bones not for food but to keep their evergrowing
tions are often not available in American li- incisor teeth worn down to occlusion. These are
braries, so the restatements (often with com- to me the most interesting chapters in the
mentaries reflecting later research and further book, possibly because the information was
reflection) are of great value. Brain regards least familiar, but also because they are enlivthis first part as a “paleodetective’s hand- ened by investigators’ encounters with the anibook-a guide to the interpretation of bony mals. Thus we read about a hyaena trying to
stow a remainder of a meal under shallow water,
clues found in African caves.”
Brain reports direct observation on the “sur- presumably for hiding it and possibly for longer
vival” of different parts of the skeleton of con- preservation. The procedure failed, because it
temporary prey animals after carnivores have was a lung that persisted in floating, much to
finished with them. These include Hottentot the distress of the hyaena. Elsewhere, Brain
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