Review Of "Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives Of Great Apes And Dolphins" By M. Bearzi And C. B. Stanford

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Since apes and dolphins have relatively large brains for their body size, they may have similar behavior. Bearzi (president and cofounder, Ocean Conservation Society) and Stanford (anthropology and biological sciences, Univ. of Southern California) ably review feeding, reproductive, social, and cognitive behavior using both fieldwork and laboratory observations, but favoring the former (in some cases.) This reliance on fieldwork is somewhat of a stretch since there are so many more studies on apes than dolphins, and the observation conditions are so different for the two groups. The conclusion that both are social hunters and use "political" alliances with other group members to obtain reproductive advantage is not surprising. The authors end with a plea for conservation of both groups. The book's weakness is the total lack of reference to the behavior of other animal groups, particularly the well-documented studies showing that many behaviors of dolphins and apes are also shared by smaller-brained animals such as birds. Students should use Beautiful Minds in conjunction with a good animal behavior book such as J. Alcock's Animal Behavior (8th ed., 2005). There are no illustrations, graphs, tables, or photos; the index and suggested readings are limited. The writing is clear and nontechnical. Summing Up: Recommended. Academic and public libraries, all levels.


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