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Naming our ancestors An anthology of hominid taxonomy. Edited by W. Eric Meikle and Sue Taylor Parker. Prospect Heights IL Waveland. 1994. 254 pp. ISBN 0-88133-799-4. $12

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fossil, but relied on a cast, photographs, and
Edited by W. Eric the descriptions of others. At least there is
Meikle and Sue Taylor Parker. Prospect
Heights, IL: Waveland. 1994. 254 pp.
ISBN 0-88133-799-4. $12.95 (paper).
nothing t o indicate that King studied the
original since he frequently refers to “an excellent cast, provided by Mr. Gregory.” In
addition, all the plates in King‘s announceIn these days when it is difficult to prepare ment appear to be from the literature or “the
course-book readers through copy services plaster cast.” [Apparently Huxley also never
(due to high costs, the early deadlines well examined the original Neanderthal fossil
before the class begins, and those annoying when he described it in Man’s Place in Napermissions to avoid copyright infringe- ture (F. Spencer, pers. comm.), so in those
ments), books comprised of papers collected days studying originals may have not been
from the literature are important instru- viewed as essential as it is now.] It is also
ments for classroom use. This book meets interesting, as the editors point out, that
the classroom needs by publishing original King misstated the date of discovery a s 1857!
papers, but it is more than just a book for There’s a certain irony that the first fossil
students. It is a reference source for some hominid species was named without access
of the most important papers published in to the original specimen, but despite all this,
paleoanthropology. As the editors note in many of King’s distinguishing features for
their preface, “students generally do not Neanderthals are still valid today (although
have easy access to much of the literature” I do not think they constitute grounds for a
(p. ix) in paleoanthropology and the intent of separate species). But King was not alone in
this book is to provide reprints of the original naming a hominid species based primarily
papers in which new genera or species of on the data of others. Groves and Mazak
hominids were announced and defined. After (essay 14)relied heavily on data in the literaa n introductory chapter which is mainly ture for naming Homo ergaster, a graceaimed a t defining terms, reviewing the rules less name which has always carried a kind
of zoological nomenclature, and painting a of vulgar connotation to me. It is not stated,
very abridged history of paleoanthropology, but it seems as though Alexeev (essay 15)
the editors include fifteen articles which rep- never had access to the Kenyan originals
resent the first identification of a new fossil when he named “Pithecanthropus” rudolhominid taxon. Four additional articles are fensis. If he did or if he even had access to
included a t the end of the book, which are casts, it makes one wonder how he could
labelled “InfluentialInterpretations of Hom- conclude that KNM-ER-1813 “in its strucinid Taxonomy.” Each of these is introduced tural features. . . is similar to KNM-ER
by a few paragraphs placing the contribution 1470” or that “such dimensions resemble
in a n historical and sometimes intellectual Central African pigmies (sic)” (p. 146). This
latter essay (published in 1986) makes a full
The articles forming the core of the book loop back to the King Neanderthal anare informative reading-some of which I nouncement and seems a full century outhad never taken the trouble to find or read. of-date, except for the inclusion of recently
For example, I had never read Dubois’ an- discovered specimens. I am certain few panouncement of the 1892 Trinil material (it leoanthropologists have read Alexeev’s anis translated from Dutch) or Schoetensack‘s nouncement in the English translation and
description (translated from German) of the even fewer in the original Russian, but given
Heidelberg jaw. Both are interesting period what he writes, that may be for the better.
pieces. Moreover, from reading William His paper more than any other shows that
King’s 1864 description of the initial Nean- naming a new species relates to priority
derthal skeleton from Feldhofer Cave, it more than, necessarily, to the quality of the
seems that he never examined the original argument. J u s t these examples make the
book worth its price in showing how much
the field has (and has not) progressed
since 1864.
Besides these, the other essays make informative reading, especially when the different articles are placed side-by-side so that
their contrasting styles, approaches, and
perspectives become apparent. For example,
it is interesting to juxtapose Dart with
Broom. Dart is much more enjoyable to read
with his clear writing style, his penchant for
interpretation, and especially his willingness to veer off into speculations about culture, bipedalism, etc. In contrast, Broom is
much more descriptive and zoologically
straitlaced, less willing to stray into speculation. Asimilar contrast can be made between
the almost casual style in Leakey’s description of “Zinjanthropus” compared to the rigorously formal approach of Johanson, White,
and Coppens’ announcement of A. afarensis.
Moving away from the articles naming new
taxa, it is also interesting to contrast Mayr’s
rationale for limiting the number of named
hominid species with Tattersall’s willingness to greatly expand them. In another per-
spective, it is manifestly apparent how important Nature (as opposed to Science) has
been to the development of paleoanthropology since nearly half of the fifteen species
announcements occurred there. Finally, the
paper by Simpson on the meaning of taxonomic statements and the compilation by
Campbell on the multitude of taxonomic
names proposed for hominids are extremely
useful papers. If Tattersall’s perspective is
followed, Campbell’s list of 87+ species
names may have to be expanded.
In short, this is truly a n excellent compilation, one useful in upper-level human evolution classes and just as important as a source
of the original articles for the professors who
walk into them. For me, and I suspect some
of my colleagues, several of these constitute
basic reading we should have done a long
time ago.
Edited by Richard
W. Wrangham, W.C. McGrew, Frans B.M.
de Waal, and Paul G. Heltne. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press. 1994. 424
pp. ISBN 0-674-11662-3. $39.95 (cloth).
While information from the best-studied
chimpanzee populations at Gombe and Mahale have often been taken to be representative of chimpanzees as a whole, important
differences between populations exist.
Closer comparative work suggests several
reasons for the differences: 1) different
methods; 2) different levels of habituation;
3) different habitat structure; 4)communityspecific, socially transmitted behaviors. In
particular, the woodland environment of
Gombe is distinct and has a shorter canopy
than other more densely forested sites. Comparisons of Gombe, Kibale, and Tai Forest
show that differences in heights of trees can
influence party sizes (Chapman et al.) locomotion, substrate use (Doran and Hunt) and
even hunting strategies of chimpanzees
(Boesch). Clearly, as the editors recognize,
these kinds of differences need to be accounted for before evaluating the importance of cultural mechanisms in explaining
differences in chimpanzee communities.
Chimpanzee Cultures presents current research documenting the great behavorial diversity in the genus Pan. This volume resulted from the second Understanding
Chimpanzees Symposium (19911, and represents collaborative efforts which followed the
conference. As such, it is a welcome departure from the compilation of individual conference papers typical for volumes of this
sort. The volume demonstrates variability
in habitat, seasonality, social experience, enriched versus impoverished captive environments throughout ontogeny and between individuals, communities, geographic areas,
and species. Each of three major sections
treats long-term studies of either ecology, behavior, or cognition.
Department of Anthropology
University of Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas
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heights, taxonomy, anthology, 88133, eric, parker, isbn, 1994, waveland, sue, taylor, 799, prospects, meikle, ancestors, edited, 254, naming, hominis
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