Richard Wrangham is the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University and Curator of Primate Behavioural Biology at the Peabody Museum. He is the co-author of Demonic Males and co-editor of Chimpanzee Cultures. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In this stunningly original book, Richard Wrangham argues that it was cooking that caused the extraordinary transformation of our ancestors from apelike beings to Homo erectus. At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: the habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labour. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as the cooking apes . Covering everything from food-labelling and overweight pets to raw-food faddists, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument about how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. This notion is surprising, fresh and, in the hands of Richard Wrangham, utterly persuasive ... Big, new ideas do not come along often in evolution these days, but this is one. -Matt Ridley, author of Genome
Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the existence of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. When our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking their food, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew. Time once spent chewing tough raw food could be sued instead to hunt and to tend camp. Cooking became the basis for pair bonding and marriage, created the household, and even led to a sexual division of labor. Tracing the contemporary implications of our ancestors' diets, Catching Fire sheds new light on how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today. A pathbreaking new theory of human evolution, Catching Fire will provoke controversy and fascinate anyone interested in our ancient originsor in our modern eating habits.
Forests need apes as much as the apes need the forests. They are the gardeners of the forest - keystone species in the ecology of African and Southeast Asian forests, dispersing seeds, creating light gaps and pruning branch-tips whilst feeding. Their habitat comprises two of the planet's three major tropical forest blocks that are essential for global climate regulation. But the economic pressures that are destroying ape habitats are much greater than current available conservation finance. This unique case study from the Kibale national park illustrates how biological research has had diverse consequences for conservation. It examines effects on habitat management, community relations, ecotourism and training. Lessons learned from this project over the last 20 years will inspire researchers and conservationists to work together to promote biodiversity through field projects.
This study is an analysis of the roots of human savagery, dealing with the fundamental questions of why the majority of violence is perpetrated by men, whether this is a matter of nature or nurture and whether anything can be done about it. The book provides some surprising answers, based on comparison of male violence among human and among man's closest relatives, the great apes. In three or four species, male violence is common, but the form of violence differs: male orangutangs tend to rape, male chimps wage war and male gorillas kill the offspring of other males. Only in the fourth species, the little-known bonobo, are males (as well as females) non-violent - females are co-dominant, there is no observable aggression between groups, and there is a high level and diversity of sexual activity. The findings are based on 30 years of field research on the behaviour and ecology of chimpanzees and other mammals in Africa.
Do chimpanzees have something akin to culture? Bringing together studies of behavioural variation within and among chimpanzees and bonobos - the sibling species of the genus Pan - this book provides the basis for answering this question. In Chimpanzee Cultures , leading authorities on chimpanzees and bonobos chronicle the animals' behaviours from one study site to the next, in both captive and wild groups, in laboratory and field settings.