Hogan M. Sherrow Dept. of Anthropology Yale University 51 Hillhouse Ave. New Haven, CT 06520 email@example.com WALKER'S PRIMATES OF THE WORLD Nowak, R. M. 2000. Walker's Primates of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press. In this latest edition of Walker's Primates of the World Nowak provides comprehensive data on the world's extant and recently extinct primates. The book begins with an extensive introduction by R. Mittermeier, A. Rylands and W. Konstant that lays the foundation for the descriptions that follow. Mittermeier, et al cover the major elements depicted in detail by Nowak in a generalized form. From taxonomy and patterns of diversity to conservation, the introduction provides the reader with additional text that aids in the comprehension of the study of primates. Nowak then moves on to systematically present fifteen Families of primates in the rest of the book. The descriptions begin with the Lorisidae and the other Strepsirhines and continue on through the Haplorhines, culminating in the Hominidae. At the end of the volume, Nowak has provided taxonomic, morphological, physiological, behavioral and conservation data on 279 species of primate. Seven of these species are recently extinct and are described based on interpretations of subfossil remains. Accompanying the descriptions of the various primate taxa are black and white photographs or illustrations that serve to visually document the characteristics described in the text. The inclusion of a worldwide distribution of primates, and an appendix that includes a geological time scale and conversion tables and an extensive citation section further emphasizes the completeness of this text. Nowak's efforts have resulted in a volume of high utility. The text is accessible enough to be understood and appreciated by the layperson with an interest in primates, yet complete enough to serve as a reference for students and researchers. Building upon the previous installments of Primates of the World, Nowak includes new information in an effort to keep the text up to date. The end product is a comprehensive treatment of the Order Primates that can be appreciated by several different audiences. Although I would recommend this book as a basic reference for anyone with an interest in primates there are a few elements of the text that I see as potential problems. The introduction, while not written by Nowak, serves as an important element of the volume. Overall it is an excellent introduction to this volume and to the Order Primates. However, there are sections that are not as clear as they could be. The terminology used to describe primate social systems indicates an indifference to the number of females residing in a social unit except in regards to the number of males present. "Primate reproductive patterns and social units are also diverse, ranging from monogamous, territorial families to large, gregarious, multimale troops and to complex fission-fusion communities in which associations change frequently based on the availability of food and sexually receptive females" (p. 1). This misrepresents the complexity observed in primate social interactions. Furthermore, the ambiguous use of the terms "prosimians" and "strepsirhines" when discussing tarsier phylogeny could mislead readers. These points are minor comments on a good introduction that provides a historical perspective on primatology and primate conservation. Two issues regarding the images used in the text should be discussed. First, the lack of color photos within the text may limit the popularity of the book as a general reference. However, the use of black and white images probably contributes greatly to the affordability of this volume. Secondly, the reproduction and reuse of old photographs of animals in captivity and zoos can be problematic (e.g. L. catta p. 74, A. geoffroyi p. 100, G. gorilla p. 178-179). There is currently a large enough photodatabase of many of these animals in the wild to limit the use of images of captive individuals. The continued use of captive images allows many to see all primates as potential zoo animals. In addition, images of primates in a natural setting allows for better visualization of the animals and their ecological and behavioral characteristics. At times Nowak fails to include recent data regarding certain taxa. In regards to Hylobates , Nowak states that "All species of gibbons are monogamous," (p. 169). He fails to further explain that extra-pair copulations have been observed in some populations of gibbons (Palombit 1994, Reichard 1995) and that this "monogamous" taxa might possess greater flexibility in mating behavior than was previously thought. The section on Gorilla relies heavily on data from berengei as little data exists for gorilla and graueri . However, the current data for gorilla indicates that the statement, "The smallest groups, averaging 4-8 members, are found in the western lowland subspecies," (p. 181) is inaccurate (Remis 1997). These examples appear to be the result of the lack of inclusion of some of the recent data on these taxa. Finally, the issue of progression should be discussed. At first glance the text could be interpreted as presenting the Order Primates from "most primitive" to "most advanced". Upon further examination, it is apparent that the order in which taxa are presented is a logical one and that humans are treated in an objective manner as the only living species of the Family Hominidae. While the elements discussed above can be problematic in a reference text, they are minor flaws in an overall excellent, reference volume. The approach is clear and concise and the information presented is valuable and, in general, accurate. I will keep this volume on my shelf as an important reference for many years to come and I highly recommend it as a reference for other researchers and as a supplemental text for courses on primates. References Cited Palombit, R. 1994. Extra-pair copulations in a monogamous ape. Animal Behaviour. V47. P721-723. Reichard, U. 1995. Extra-pair copulation in monogamous wild white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar). International Journal of Mammalian Biology. V60. P186-188. Remis, M. 1997. Ranging and grouping patterns of a western lowland gorilla group at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. American Journal of Primatology. V43. P111-133. HOW TO CITE THIS REVIEW: Sherrow, Hogan. Review of Walker's Primates of the World by Ronald M. Nowak. Baltimore, John Hopkins, 2000. Primate-Science Book Reviews, Primate-Science Listserve. firstname.lastname@example.org (27 April, 2000).
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