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Theropithecus The rise and fall of a primate genus. Edited by Nina G. Jablonski. New York Cambridge University Press. 1993. 536 pp. ISBN 0-521-41105-x. $195.00 (cloth)

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chapters are good, this is not the volume
that will finally lay to rest cultural anthropologists’ concerns about the inclusion of
primatologists in anthropology departments. But perhaps that is too tall an order
for any single volume.
Edited by Nina G. Jablonski.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
1993. 536 pp. ISBN 0-521-41105-~.
$195.00 (cloth).
Nine Jablonski should be commended for
assembling such a high-quality comprehensive collection of papers on one of the bestknown genera of non-hominoid primates
with a fossil record. Theropithecus is known
from hundreds of specimens from several
species spanning a time period of more than
three million years over a wide geographic
area. Unlike most fossil genera, one species
of Theropithecus, T .gelada, lives today. Living and fossil Theropithecus specimens provide the opportunity t o study the biology
and evolution of a primate genus in a more
complete way than for almost any other
taxon. Jablonski has pulled together foremost authorities on Theropithecus to document the anatomy, origins, evolution, paleobiology, geographic distribution, diet,
locomotion, ontogeny, phylogeny, taxonomy,
and social behavior of this exciting genus.
Such a thorough treatment of a genus
stands out in the paleontological literature.
It is high time such an important and sometimes underappreciated taxon received its
share of attention.
This book was born out of a symposium
entitled “Theropithecus as a Case Study in
Primate Evolutionary Biology,” which convened in April 1990 at King‘s College, University of Cambridge. As noted by Jablonski
in her introduction, the symposium led to
extensive discussions among conference
participants, interactions which left their
mark in the content of the book. The integrated character of this volume is lacking in
some edited books, and is yet another feature making this work stand out in the sci-
Laboratory of Comparative Behavioral
New Iberia Research Center
University of Southwestern Louisiana
New Iberia, Louisiana
entific literature. The quality of the papers
is almost uniformly high, resulting from a
rigorous peer review process. Focus is generally on the fossil species, but discussion of
extant geladas is included in all papers.
This book is dense with facts and interpretations. However, the coherent organization
of this book makes a large quantity of detailed information into a useful reference.
Jablonski has organized it into four parts: 1)
Fossil Evidence and Phylogeny, 2) Biogeography and Evolutionary Biology, 3) Anatomy of the Fossil and Living Species of
Theropithecus, and 4) Behavior and Ecology
of Living and Fossil Species of Theropithecus. Papers within each section are integrated and cover all major sides of issues in
a balanced fashion. Jablonski begins the volume with a summary chapter that previews
facts and theoretical issues presented in
subsequent chapters. At the end there are
two appendices, one a catalog of fossil specimens and the other a statement of the conservation status of modern geladas. Each individual chapter begins with a concise,
numbered summary of the main points
made in the text.
Part 1, Fossil Evidence and Phylogeny,
consists of seven chapters. Each paper, except for the last, contains descriptions, comparisons and interpretations of Theropithecus fossils, along with discussions of the
taxonomy and phylogeny of Theropithecus
species. Authors of these chapters do a careful job of integrating functional anatomy
into their discussions of phylogeny and classification, an approach pivotal to an accurate understanding of the biology and evolution of any taxon. Too often function and
phylogenetic studies are conducted independently of one another, limiting the amount
we can learn from either one. In particular,
Leakey’s elegant chapter on evolution of
Theropithecus from the Turkana Basin covers diet, functional anatomy, evolution, phylogeny, body size, and a host of other issues
to provide a well-rounded and insightful description of evolution in Turkana Theropithecus. Jablonski ends Part 1 with her own
chapter on the phylogeny of Theropithecus,
in which she summarizes and compares arguments made in preceding chapters. The
authors accept that Theropithecus and Papi0 are sister taxa. Despite disagreement
about phyletic relationships between T.
gelada and T. oswaldi, they agree that the T.
brumpti lineage was behaviorally and phyletically distinct from the others, supported
by functional studies described in Part 3.
Most accept fossils attributed to T. darti as
ancestors of T. oswaldi and fossils attributed to T. quadratirostrus and T. baringensis as part of the T. brumpti lineage.
Part 2, Biogeography and Evolutionary
Biology, consists of only two chapters. The
first is by Pickford, and considers effects of
climate change and biogeography on the distribution and evolution of Theropithecus.
Pickford considers climatic fluctuations
along with other environmental factors such
as possible mammalian competitors and
geologic changes in explaining the distribution of living and fossil Theropithecus. The
second is by Foley, who compares the evolutionary history of Theropithecus to that of
papionines and hominids. His paper highlights one of the more interesting aspects of
Theropithecus to most paleoanthropologists.
Because Theropithecus species have coexisted with hominids throughout their entire
evolutionary history, they provide us with
another small window into the early hominid world.
Part 3, Anatomy of the Fossil and Living
Species of Theropithecus, provides a fivechapter overview of its functional and developmental anatomy. Martin’s allometric
analyses reveal that Theropithecus had a
relatively long tooth row (as does Papio),
small brains, and a greater degree of sexual
dimorphism than expected for their size.
Jablonski’s analysis of the masticatory complex suggests that in most Theropithecus
species, requirements for mastication are
balanced by selection to produce a wide gape
for canine displays. However, T. brumpti
must have had a more limited canine display but the capability of producing greater
molar occlusal forces. Increased occlusal
force suggests a diet of harder foodstuffs, a
conclusion supported by Teaford‘s study of
dental microwear in this genus. Further differences between T. brumpti and other
Theropithecus species in the postcranium
are noted by Krentz, supporting the interpretation suggested by many in this volume
that T. brumpti occupied a more forested,
and therefore perhaps more arboreal, niche.
Swindler and Beynon analyze dental microstructure to provide a profile of dental maturation in T. gelada. They conclude from
their studies that gelada had a similar dental eruption sequence to its fossil congeners,
and identify a pattern of selection for prolonged tooth wear.
Part 4 is entitled Behavior and Ecology of
Living and Fossil Species of Theropithecus,
and consists of only two chapters. Dunbar
reports that modern geladas live in multilevel stratified societies based on one-male
breeding groups, containing up to several
related females with long-term alliances,
banded together to form large herds. Dunbar hypothesizes that this social system represents an adaptation to exploiting an open
habitat; herds help protect geladas from
predators, and living in female kin groups
decreases intragroup competitive pressures.
Iwamoto’s chapter on gelada ecology suggests that group living, combined with efficient food processing techniques, possible digestive specializations, and the use of cliffs
as refuges enables geladas to live a t higher
population densities than sympatric primates and ungulates in their Ethiopian
highland habitat.
Appendix I is an extremely useful catalog
of all Theropithecus fossils known throughout the world, compiled by Delson, Eck,
Leakey, and Jablonski. This appendix provides specimen number, locality, and a brief
description of each individual fossil for each
geographic region in which Theropithecus
fossils are found. In addition, Appendix I begins with a table listing time spans that
Theropithecus is known from each locality.
If only all fossil taxa had such an efficient,
comprehensive catalog listing all fossils in
one convenient place! I hope future paleon-
tologists follow this example when reporting
on other fossil groups.
Finally, in keeping with the thorough nature of this book, Robin Dunbar ends the
book with Appendix I1 on the conservation
status of the gelada. After all, if one spends
so much time discussing the origins and evolution of a genus, one should discuss its
future as well.
In summary, I highly recommend this volume not only to all those interested in the
genus Theropithecus, but to all students of
paleontology and evolutionary biology. This
well-integrated collection of papers covers
nearly all aspects of the biology and evolution of this important genus in a balanced
fashion. Theropithecus: The Rise and Fall of
a Primate Genus should serve as a model for
anyone wishing to prepare a monograph on
a fossil taxon. This exemplary work should
be required reading for all primate paleontologists and paleobiologists.
Books Received
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of Civilization. New York: Routledge. 716
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Farmington, Connecticut: S. Karger. 203
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Goldblatt P (ed.) (1994) Biological Relationships Between Africa and South America.
New Haven: Yale University Press. 630
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ed. Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center. 354 pp.
Bell, EL (1994) Vestiges of Mortality & Remembrance: A Bibliography on the Historical Archaeology of Cemeteries. Metuchen,
New Jersey: Scarecrow Press. 418 pp.
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Bray, TL, and TW Killion (eds.) (1994)Reckoning with the Dead: The Larsen Bay Repatriation and the Smithsonian Institution. Washington, DC: Smithsonian
Institution Press. 194 pp $29.95 (paper).
Chivers, DJ, and P Langer (eds.) (1994) The
Digestive System in Mammals: Food,
Form, and Function. New York: Cambridge University Press. 446 pp. $84.95
Departments of Anthropology and Anatomy
University of Missouri
Columbia, Missouri
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cloth, 195, nina, rise, university, falle, isbn, new, 536, genus, 1993, cambridge, york, 521, primate, edited, 41105, theropithecus, jablonski, pres
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