You are on page 1of 3

International Journal o f Primatology, VoL 9, No.

4, 1988

Book Review
Apes of the World. Their Social Behavior, Communication, Mentality and
Ecology. By Russell H. Tuttle, Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, New
Jersey, 1986, 421 pp., $55.00.

In 1929, Robert and Ada Yerkes published their landmark book The
Great Apes: A Study of Anthropoid Life. In it, they summarized all available information about the apes. Reliable scientific information about apes
was sparse, and they were sometimes forced to cite anecdotal reports and
observations of unique events involving single individuals. They would probably be gratified to read Apes of the World, R. H. Tuttle's admirable successor to their volume. His book carefully documents the contemporary body
of knowledge about gibbons, siamangs, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and
orangutans that has been accumulated in the last 50 years. We now know
much more than the Yerkeses did about the origins of the apes, their taxonomic relationships to one another and to ourselves, their morphological
adaptations, their social organization and behavior, their cognitive capacities, and their communication repertoires.
The book is arranged topically, and each chapter focuses upon a different subject. Tuttle begins with the taxonomy, distribution, and phylogeny
of the hylobatid and pongid apes. In Chapter 2, he describes their positional
behavior. Chapters 3 and 4 are concerned with the ecological adaptations
of the apes, their feeding strategies, ranging patterns, interspecific interactions, and sleeping behavior. In Chapter 5, Tuttle describes tool use by apes
in captivity and the wild, and in Chapters 6 and 7 he focuses upon the cognitive capacities and communicative skills of the apes. In the last chapter, Tuttle
details the social organization and social behavior of the apes.
This organizational scheme is useful for developing comparative analyses. If you want to know what apes eat and to compare their diets, you
can proceed directly to Chapter 3. On the other hand, information about
each population and species is distributed through many chapters. If you
are interested in the bonobos of Wamba, the orangutans of Kentambe, or
016,4-0291/88/0800-0385506.00109 1988 Plenum Publishing Corporation

investigators. more of these visual devices might also have improved the flow of the text. Perhaps tedium is inevitable in a book like this. there are some gaps in this compendium. Although many studies are described in detail. Virtually every reference that I know of is included. if not as much fun as foreplay. I did not fully appreciate these efforts. he or she had best not proceed with the book" (p.386 Book Review the gorillas of Mt." I estimated that the 72-page bibliography contains approximately 1500 references. For the reader who finds graphs. and notes inconsistencies between studies. Tuttle elected not to survey data on the behavior o f apes in captivity or to discuss the conservation of the apes in the wild. and how they interact. There are few figures to illustrate patterns in the quantitative data. particularly the frequent use of slang terms for sexual acts (e. you have to rely upon the index or skim the entire book to find out what they eat. I found it difficult to retain much of the information that Tuttle has so carefully compiled. few maps to locate the main study sites at which apes have been studied. synthetic discussions of the results of these studies are quite limited. It may also limit the impact of the data on readers. and no summary table describing the sites." and "shooting blanks"). tables. this is clearly the first place to turn. One of the great strengths of this book is that it synthesizes so much information from so many disparate sources. The inclusion of more graphs.. and tenure of the major research projects. xiii). It could have been subtitled "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Apes but Did Not Have Enough Time to Look Up." "humping. Visoke. For nearly any question about the apes. In the Preface. As far-ranging as the book is. Tuttle does not fully discuss the theoretical issues that motivate much of the work on many of these topics. "hunching. Tuttle is a fair and critical guide through this literature. and report the findings of these studies. The book contains a great wealth of information that will be valuable for many different purposes and provides a very useful contribution to the literature on the apes. and maps as illuminating as words. He warns the reader about methodological problems that limit the value of some observations.g. points out logical flaws in the interpretation of data. maps. This will limit the book's usefulness to undergraduate students and its appeal for nonspecialists. Tuttle has made a monumental effort to collect. Tuttle notes that he attempted to relieve the tedium of facts with puns and word play and warns that "unless the reader agrees that wordplay is almost as much fun as foreplay. organize. One problem with the book is that it often reads like a tersely annotated bibliography. For the most part. where they sleep. and tables might also make it easier to consult this book as .

Silk Department of Anthropology University of California Los Angeles. Many of the black-and-white photographic illustrations of the apes do not do justice to their subjects. Joan B. California 90024 .Book Review 387 a reference.