9781860494758 / 1860494757

Beauty and the Beasts: Woman, Ape and Evolution


Publisher:Little Brown UK



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About the book:

WHAT MOTIVATES THEM? What drives perfectly sane middle-class women away from husbands and home and a nice steady career job to study unruly primates in damp, dangerous, uncomfortable, unforgiving environments? When Louis Leakey first sent Jane Goodall out to the Gombe reserve in Tanzania to study the chimpanzees, he could little have suspected a craze which would eventually see a field of science in which women outnumber men. Followed by Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas, Leakey's instinct that women would make better field scientists than men was both controversial and provocative. Beauty and the Beasts is the first book to take an overview of the numerous women who have followed Leakey's trimates into the world of primatalogy and to ask the question: was Louis Leakey right? From the discovery of tool use, to mother-infant bonds, the purposes of infanticide to the reasons for the female orgasm, women have made giant steps in our knowledge of these animals and also ourselves. But their methodology has often been criticised for being over-emotional, a warping of the maternal bond, unscientific, perversely sexual and, in certain cases, plain mad. Yet women continue to find out more about ape behaviour than their male counterparts and our knowledge of ourselves continues to be strengthened by their work. Carole Jahme examines both the stereotypical candidate white, amateur, attractive, middle-class, childless and her university-trained counterpart. In erudite and entertaining prose she explores the significance of their scientific discoveries and the prejudices encountered by these pioneering women.

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