Anthropology, Biology, Press Releases

Press Release: Cheney and Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics

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Watching primates at zoos is so fascinating because they seem to relate to one another as individuals; we see in their actions and vocalizations signs of friendship, rivalry, and even love. But how much of what we see is just our anthropomorphizing? How do primates really understand their relationships and their place in the world? The fruit of fifteen years living with baboons in their native habitat, Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind answers these questions and more, showing us how baboons understand themselves and their world. The drama of rank and kinship, the authors reveal, would be right at home in Jane Austen, as the baboons make and break alliances with friends, relatives, and rivals. Through unprecedented field experiments, Cheney and Seyfarth enable us to understand the intelligence underlying these bonds and the forms of communications baboons employ to manage their relationships—and the dangers and stress of living in the wild. Baboon Metaphysics gives us an unprecedented and compelling glimpse into the mind of this most fascinating species.
Read the press release. Read an excerpt from the book.