Book Summaries

Primates in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book

Primates in Question by Rob Shumaker
The mysterious and often unpredictable world of primates is explained by Smithsonian scientists in a question-and-answer format. Primates in Question, part of the Smithsonian’s popular “In Question” series, is a comprehensive response to the many thousands of calls and letters the Smithsonian receives regarding questions related to monkeys, apes, lemurs, tamarins, and their relatives. What are primates? How closely related are humans to other primates? How strong is a gorilla? Why do primates spend so much time grooming? Why can’t apes talk? These and almost 100 other questions are addressed with clear, thorough answers, accompanied by beautiful color photographs. More Information »

Orangutans

Orangutans by Rob Shumaker
Orangutans are one of mankind’s closest relatives – even their name translates from the Malay words meaning “People of the Forest”.  They have a special reputation for patience and persistence, and are notoriously clever when faced with a challenge.  Orangutans are the largest tree-living mammal, and spend most of their time high in the rain forest canopies of Sumatra and Borneo.  However, the days of the wild orangutans are numbered.  Logging, agriculture and hunting post critical threats to their survival.  At the current rate of habitat destruction, wild orangutans could be lost within one generation, which would make them the first great ape to become extinct in recorded history.  Orangutans are sentient individuals who deserve far better treatment than our species currently provides for them.  Urgent action is required to ensure that they continue to survive. More Information »

Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals

Animal Tool Behavior by Rob Shumaker
When published in 1980, Benjamin B. Beck’s Animal Tool Behavior was the first volume to catalog and analyze the complete literature on tool use and manufacture in non-human animals.  Beck showed that animals – from insects to primates – employed different types of tools to solve numerous problems.  His work inspired and energized legions of researchers to study the use of tools by a wide variety of species.

In this revised and updated edition f the landmark publication, Robert W. Shumaker and Kristina R. Walkup join Beck to reveal the current state of knowledge regarding animal tool behavior.  Through a comprehensive synthesis of the studies produced through 2010, the authors provide an updated and exact definition of tool use, identify new modes of use that have emerged in the literature, examine all forms of tool manufacture, and address common myths about non-human tool use.  Specific examples involving invertebrates, birds, fish, and mammals describe differing levels of sophistication of tool use exhibited by animals. More Information »

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