These original contributions on the evolution of primates and the techniques for studying the subject cover an enormous range of material and incorporate the work of specialists from many different fields, showing the necessity of a multidisciplinary approach to problems of primate morphology and phylogeny. Collectively, they demonstrate the concerns and methods of leading contemporary workers in this and related fields. Each contributor shows his way of attacking fundamental problems of evolutionary primatology.
The range of findings in this book include new clues to the evolution of the middle ear and the subsistence behavior of early primates, a persuasive critique of the Smith-Jones hypothesis that many features of primate cranial morphology are adaptations to the special vicissitudes of arboreal habitation, the remarkable association of relative muscle mass in the hands and feet of catarrhine primates with the particularities of prehensile behaviors, the wealth of behavioral data that may be obtained by the concentrated study of certain primates in the vicinity of waterholes, the striking differences between inferences about the same behavioral phenomena that are based on long-term as opposed to short-term observations of one primate social group, and the strategy of sophisticated mathematical techniques for elucidating biomechanical, evolutionary, and behavioral problems.
Each chapter conveys the status and progress of research in these and other particular areas of special interest, pointing the way toward further clarification of the functional biology and phylogeny of primates through the application of relatively new techniques or the comprehensive employment of available methods. No attempt is made to smooth over controversial points of view, or to endorse a single uniform model of primate evolution. This work will be an important reference for evolutionary and physical anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, comparative morphologists, human anatomists, behavioralists, and students of evolution.