978-1-56947-295-8 / 9781569472958

Beauty and the Beasts: Woman, Ape and Evolution


Publisher:Soho Press



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About the book:

Women have played a large and crucial part in "primatology"--the science of the great apes. Most people, for instance, will have heard of Dian Fossey, whose life and death amid the apes of central Africa was the inspiration for the film Gorillas in the Mist. Others will know of Jane Goodall, and her unflinching studies into the cruelty, violence and pathos of chimpanzee social life.

But as this refreshing and accessible book points out, there's lots more names that should be added to the proud roster of "ape women". Scientists such as Shirley McGrill, Mary Leakey and Birute Galdikas have all braved the hazards of the field (such as disease, civil war and rape by orang-utans), to come back with eye-witness accounts of simian behaviour. Disciplines as diverse as sexology and virology have benefited from their research.

Quite why women should be so adept at primatology is a moot point, and one that Jahme addresses. Is it typically female patience, empathy, tolerance and intuition? Or just the best scientists doing the best work? Either way, Jahme's intriguing text is a fitting monument to half a century of dauntless and exacting scientific endeavour.--Sean Thomas

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