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Just before the origin. By J. L. Brooks. New York Columbia University Press. 1984. xiii + 284 pp. figures tables references index. $30

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BOOK REVIEWS
JUST
BEFORETHE ORIGIN.By J. L. Brooks.
New York: Columbia University Press.
1984. xiii + 284 pp., figures, tables, references, index. $30.00 (cloth).
Evolution by natural selection is a n idea
codiscovered independently by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
As the story goes, Darwin began writing
his magnum opus in England in 1856 based
on a n 1844 sketch of the idea. One year earlier, in 1855, while in the Malay Archipelago,
Wallace had published a paper on the origin
of species, which Darwin read. Before completing his opus, on June 18, 1858, Darwin
received a letter from Wallace. In it, Wallace
outlined a theory remarkably like Darwin’s
own. Distraught, Darwin immediately sent
Wallace’s paper and then two selections of
his own earlier work to Charles Lyell. The
two selections were a letter Darwin had written to Asa Gray in 1857 and a highlighted
copy of his 1844 sketch. Lyell and Joseph
Hooker arranged to have Darwin’s and Wallace’s material “read” (neither author was
present) as a joint presentation to the Linnean Society. Both men received credit for
originating the idea of evolution by natural
selection, but Darwin received credit for originating it first and working on it longer. After
the joint presentation, Darwin rushed to
complete his opus in abridged form. The result was Origin of Species (1859).
The idea of evolution by natural selection
has been monumentally important to science, and the apparent independent codiscovery of it seems unusual. For these reasons
historians of science have studied thoroughly
the careers of Darwin and Wallace. So much
has been written about both that a t times
one wonders whether anything important remains to be discovered about their relationship. Just Before the Origin examines this
relationship yet again. Brooks’ thesis is that
the Darwin-Wallace codiscovery was not as
independent as the standard story tells, because Darwin borrowed important parts of
Wallace’s ideas without giving Wallace
credit. This thesis warrants scrutiny.
Brooks’ version of the Darwin-Wallace
story makes several revisions. According to
Brooks, at first Darwin failed to appreciate
fully the value of Wallace’s 1855 paper, which
was about species’ divergence. Nevertheless,
reading it probably helped prompt him to
start writing the opus he had contemplated
459
for years. The long manuscript of that opus
contained a key chapter on natural selection.
When in 1858 Darwin received Wallace’s disturbing letter, he remembered the 1855 paper, reread it, and realized its true value.
Darwin then used Wallace’s ideas to rewrite
the section on divergence in the natural selection chapter of his manuscript. He inserted into the manuscript a long addition
without identifying Wallace as its inspiration. All this was done before Darwin mailed
Wallace’s letter to Lyell.
According to Brooks, Darwin’s 1857 letter
to Gray, which he submitted as evidence of
priority, itself had been influenced by Wallace’s 1855 paper. Moreover, Darwin went
out of his way to highlight a section of his
1844 sketch that played down how much his
ideas had changed under Wallace’s influence. Finally, still without proper attribution, Darwin used a n abridgment of the
Wallace-inspired addition to his long manuscript as a crucial section on diversification
in the chapter on natural selection in Origin
of Species. Brooks concludes that this classic
formulation of Darwinism is a n accumulation of hitherto unrecognized important contributions from Wallace.
A problem with Brooks’ thesis is Darwin’s
statement in his diary that he completed the
changes to his manuscript on June 12, 1858,
6 days before he is supposed to have received
Wallace’s letter on June 18. In response,
Brooks argues that the June 18 date is wrong,
and that Darwin received Wallace’s letter
sometime in May, allowing time for the important changes to be made.
Just Before the Origin is extraordinarily
detailed, but the evidence for Brooks’ scenario remains largely circumstantial. An example is his interpretation of two kinds of
pencil markings in the margins of Darwin’s
copy of Wallace’s 1855 paper as evidence that
Darwin read the paper twice. Much of
Brook’s argument rests on his perceived similarities in Darwin’s and Wallace’s prose,
which other investigators might perceive as
different. The result is a scenario that is possible, even plausible, but not certain.
Cover notes describe this book as “an exciting piece of scientific detective work . . . .” In
fact, the prose is unexciting, and the presentation of evidence is awkward and sometimes
tedious. Brooks, a biologist, worked on his
project off and on for more than 20 years. In
print, he should have omitted some of the
460
BOOK RE:VIEWS
detail which he had worked hard to discover.
His book suffers from a superabundance of
information that often obscures his main
points. This is especially true in the longer
first part of the book-not reviewed herethat chronicles Wallace’s own work in the
South Pacific. The excessively long excerpts
from Wallace’s writings are more distracting
than helpful.
The first part of J u s t Before the Origin will
appeal chiefly to biologists and historians already interested in Alfred Russel Wallace.
The shorter, “exciting” second part, like its
subject Charles Darwin, will appeal more to
anthropologists. Brooks might have done
better to publish this second part separately.
That way, readers would have had more time
to study it and weigh the evidence for
themselves.
PAUL
A. ERICKSON
Department of Anthropology
Saint Mary’s University
H a l i f q Nova Scotia, Canada
ADAFTATIONS
FORFORAGING
IN NONHUMAN ganizing framework for understanding priPRIMATES.
Edited by P.S. Rodman and mate natural history.
The best way to begin this volume is to
J.G.H. Cant. New York: Columbia University Press. 1984. vi + 351 pp., figures, ta- read the last chapter first. Cant and Temerin
bles, references, index. $35.00 (cloth), provide the necessary framework for integrating varied approaches to the study of
$18.50 (paper).
primate foraging in Chapter 11, “A ConcepPrimate biologists, behaviorists, and ecolo- tual Approach to Foraging Adaptations in
gists, researchers interested in reconstruct- Primates.” They systematically take apart
ing adaptations in fossil groups, and students and rebuild relationships among environwho hope to conduct their own studies on mental factors, animal bio-behavioral feanonhuman primates will want to read A d a p tures, capabilities, and expressed behavior as
tations for Foraging in Nonhuman Primates related to foraging. The use of a nonhuman
edited by Peter Rodman and John Cant. Pri- primate world view in defining problems and
mate adaptations are complex at many levels potential solutions faced by the individual
of analysis and most individual researchers clearly illustrates the components and comhave specialized in understanding particular plexity of primate foraging adaptations. This
aspects of nonhuman primate biology, beha- perspective is useful in reading field reports
vior, or ecology. Animals often have been and for designing new studies, perhaps, with
“split up” into convenient units for study new questions. This chapter is where to bethat are only parts of the whole organism gin and end this volume.
and its relation to its social and physical
The introductory statement by Rodman
environment. Fortunately, recent studies, and Cant introduces the importance of prisome of which are presented here, have asked mate foraging adaptations as a major force
questions about real animals facing real in shaping primate lives and emphasizes a
problems. Primatologists recognize the need whole organism approach in primate studies.
to synthesize diverse aspects of biology, be- The editors also present a limited history (in
havior, and ecology to explain overall adap- which no articles published after 1978 are
tations. Edited volumes like this one, which included) of research that influenced their
includes a wide range of topics focused on a thinking about this edited volume and the
central theme, go a long way toward bring- symposium at the 1980 AAPA annual meeting together data and theory on primate ad- ing that preceded it. Chapter topics are introaptations. Here, comparative studies and duced and, in combination with the last
theoretical discussions of foraging adapta- chapter, they link diverse studies of many
tions, that is, in its broadest sense, every- aspects of primate foraging.
thing that contributes to food location,
The remaining chapters fall into two cateacquisition, and assimilation, serve as a n or- gories. Several papers focus on topics that
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