Chimpanzees and Human Evolution

David R. Pilbeam (Editor) Martin N Muller (Editor)
& 1 more


Knowledge of chimpanzees in the wild has expanded dramatically in recent years. This comprehensive volume, edited by Martin Muller, Richard Wrangham, and David Pilbeam, brings together scientists who are leading a revolution to discover and explain what is unique about humans, by studying their closest living relatives. Their observations and conclusions have the potential to transform our understanding of human evolution.

Chimpanzees offer scientists an unmatched view of what distinguishes humanity from its apelike ancestors. Based on evidence from the hominin fossil record and extensive morphological, developmental, and genetic data, Chimpanzees and Human Evolution makes the case that the last common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans was chimpanzee-like. It most likely lived in African rainforests around eight million years ago, eating fruit and walking on its knuckles. Readers will learn why chimpanzees are a better model for the last common ancestor than bonobos, gorillas, or orangutans. A thorough chapter-by-chapter analysis reveals which key traits we share with chimpanzees and which appear to be distinctive to Homo sapiens, and shows how understanding chimpanzees helps us account for the evolution of human uniqueness. Traits surveyed include social behaviors and structures, mating systems, diet, hunting practices, tool use, culture, cognition, and communication.

Edited by three of primatology's most renowned experts, with contributions from 32 scholars drawing on decades of field research, Chimpanzees and Human Evolution provides readers with detailed up-to-date information on what we can infer about our chimpanzee-like ancestors and points the way forward for the next generation of discoveries.

Product Details

Belknap Press
Publish Date
November 27, 2017
6.7 X 1.8 X 9.4 inches | 2.9 pounds
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About the Author

David Pilbeam is Henry Ford II Professor of Human Evolution in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.
Martin N. Muller is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico.
Richard W. Wrangham is Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.


Comprehensive, judicious, authoritative, up-to-date, well written, and thoroughly fascinating to anyone interested in either species.--Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature
In Chimpanzees and Human Evolution, Muller, Wrangham, and Pilbeam have compiled comprehensive and wide-ranging accounts of the evolutionary continuum between chimpanzees and ourselves. It is as much about human nature as it is about chimpanzee behavior and cognition. A truly valuable and information-packed volume.--Craig Stanford, author of Planet Without Apes
To understand the evolutionary roots of what makes us modern humans, we need to understand the evolutionary history of the phenotype of our closest living relatives. By providing an authoritative and up-to-date guide to what it means to be a common chimpanzee, Chimpanzees and Human Evolution helps us better appreciate and recognize what is special about ourselves.--Bernard Wood, author of Human Evolution
Comprehensive and provocative, this wonderful volume will be indispensable for all interested in human evolution.--Anne Pusey, Director of the Jane Goodall Institute Research Center, Duke University
The authors provide a wealth of detailed information about chimpanzees and humans, and offer readers original and provocative insights into the evolutionary history of our own species...This masterful work adds substantially to the field of primatology and human evolution; it should be read by anyone with a serious interest in these fields.--T. Harrison"Choice" (08/01/2018)