Apes, monkeys, lemurs -- and other family members.
The Primate Family Tree is a beautiful and comprehensive resource on the subject of our animal relatives. Readers will find an abundance of up-to-date facts, review the latest research and conservation efforts, and discover the remarkable characteristics that all primates -- including humans -- share.
The book is structured according to the four main branches of the primate family tree and contains expert information on the natural history, characteristics and behavior of over 250 species, along with maps showing the ranges of the species. Some of the topics covered are:
With its authoritative text, color photographs taken in the field, range maps and classification diagrams, The Primate Family Tree is a comprehensive reference on a subject that is vitally important to all humans.
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Ian Redmond, a former field assistant to Dian Fossey, is a wildlife biologist with a passion for apes and elephants. He is the chief consultant for the UNEP/ UNESCO Great Apes Survival Project, and the founder of the Ape Alliance.
Jane Goodall is a primatologist, anthropologist and UN Messenger of Peace. She is renowned for her studies of chimpanzee social and family life in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, over 45 years.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
At first sight, a 4.2-ounce Pygmy Marmoset, a 550-pound gorilla, a bushbaby and a human seem to have little in common -- yet all four are primates. We are a motley clan indeed, we fellow primates, including in our ranks the huge, red-haired orangutan of Sumatra and Borneo, the Japanese Macaque, which roams snow-covered mountains in Japan, the Hamadryas Baboon of the Ethiopian deserts, the Red Uakari of the Amazon jungle, the Ring-tailed Lemur of Madagascar -- and so many more. Humans are most closely related to the great apes, especially the Chimpanzee and Bonobo. We are, in fact, the seventh great ape, although we seldom think of ourselves in this way.
When, in 1960, I began observing the Chimpanzees of the Gombe Stream Game Reserve (today a national pork) on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, there had been very few detailed studies of primates in the Wild. My descriptions of their complex social behavior, of tool-making and tool-use that required intelligence and of emotions that seemed similar to our own were largely dismissed as anthropomorphic by western science. Even the use of names rather than numbers to identify the Chimpanzees being studied was frowned upon by many European ethologists of the time. Gradually, though, this rigid attitude began to change, as field studies of animals with complex brains increasingly provided evidence of similarly complex behavior. Now, nearly half a century later, we acknowledge that many behaviors -- intellectual, social and emotional -- that were once believed to be unique to ourselves are shown by other animals too. Thousands of studies of primates, including humans, have revealed fascinating information about the extent of our relatedness and the evolutionary pathway that has led to the diverse array of primates on our planet today -- and this book explores every branch of this family tree of ours.
THE ENDANGERED PRIMATE WORLD
Tragically, even as our knowledge of and respect for other primates has grown, so their numbers have shrunk. While reading this book, you will become aware time and again of how much the future of so many of our primate relatives is threatened by human actions. I hope that its beautifully produced pages will not only fascinate readers but also help them to realize just how endangered So many primates and their habitats are today. They need our help if they are to survive beyond this century; to this end a list of organizations working for primate conservation is included at the end of the book -- I encourage you to get involved in any way that you can.
For many of us, the problems of species living far away seem to have little bearing on our lives. Yet the more I travel, raising awareness of the plight of Chimpanzees and other primates, the more I realize the extent to which so many seemingly disparate issues are interconnected. One obvious example is the destruction of the world's rainforests, which are disappearing at a terrifying rate. Yet even though only about 50 percent of the world's original forests remain, forest ecosystems store more than double the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere today. Thus, unless we can halt the destruction of rainforests, our own future -- as well as that of the primates and all the other species in the forest -- will be ever more acutely in jeopardy as a result of climate change.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Many people feel helpless in the face of global problems, not realizing that they can help -- yet every one of us can make a difference, however small. As consumers and voters we have enough power to affect business practices and even government regulations. For example, palm oil is found in 10 percent of supermarket products, ranging from everyday foods to cosmetics (on which it is often listed simply as "vegetable oil") and is now also in demand for biofuels. Most of the world's palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, where plantations have now replaced huge areas of natural forest, once home to orangutans and countless other species. Conservationists, realizing the scale of the crisis, stepped up their efforts to raise awareness. As a result, more and more people began to boycott products containing palm oil. The industry was thus pressured to take palm oil only from established plantations, and products containing palm oil that is clearly identified as "sustainably produced" will become increasingly available. Of course, we can support conservation efforts in other ways, such as writing to our elected representatives or to the companies themselves; and we can always make a donation to those working on the ground.
THE BENEFITS OF ECOTOURISM
Those who want to become involved at a more hands-on level may wish to visit primates in their natural habitats. Even a short encounter with a Chimpanzee, a Golden Lion Tamarin, a howler monkey or any of the other wonderful primates that you will find in this book can be a life-changing experience. Responsible tourism that respects the wildlife and the culture of the local community may help to focus attention on a particular habitat and the animals living there. It may also provide jobs and a better standard of living for local people.
The most important thing is that we, as citizens of Planet Earth, should do something to help -- the cumulative effect of small individual actions can bring about big changes. This is the most important message that I take around the world and the reason I work so hard to develop our Roots & Shoots program for young people, now in nearly 100 countries. We could all wear ourselves out trying to protect primates and their habitats, but it would be of little use if we were not educating today's children to become better stewards of Earth than we have been.
When I was a child I loved books. I used to spend hours going through old volumes on natural history, delighting in the illustrations -- black-and-white engravings for the most part. I was especially fascinated by the accounts of monkeys and apes, partly, no doubt, from reading The Jungle Book and the Tarzan stories. A book such as The Primate Family Tree gives me the same kind of pleasure today. You are in for a real treat.
Founder -- Jane Goodall Institute
UN Messenger of Peace
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