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February 2015 Vol. 52 No. 6

Springer SBM B.V.

The following review appeared in the February 2015 issue of CHOICE:

The Evolution of social communication in primates: a multidisciplinary approach, ed. by Marco Pina and Nathalie Gontier. Springer, 2014. 326p bibl afp (Interdisciplinary evolution research, 1) ISBN 9783319026688, $209.00.

This edited volume aims to provide a non-comprehensive (but still painstakingly careful and accurate) series of reviews and critiques of most currently available methodological and theoretical frameworks that guide research on the mechanisms and evolution of primate social communication and human language.  The first strength of this book lies in its multidisciplinary approach.  The invited contributors come from very different fields, and their reviews tackle questions, methodologies, findings, and implications from a wealth of research schools.  This includes philosophy, linguistics, archaeology, biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, developmental psychology, comparative psychology, evolutionary psychology, ethology, behavioral ecology, primatology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and genetics.  As a result, the second strength of this collection of essays is an integrative Tinbergian approach to the study of social communication and language in primates, including humans, by adopting multiple proximate-level (e.g., developmental, mechanistic) and ultimate-level (e.g., functional, phylogenetic) perspectives.  An almost necessary drawback of such a rich compendium is that some chapters are heavy going and not intended for a general audience and an undergraduate readership.  A minor sidenote: an index would have facilitated readers’ searches for specific concepts that are addressed in different chapters.

--J-B. Leca, University of Lethbridge

Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and researchers/faculty.