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The Ape in the Tree


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About the Author

Alan Walker is Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. A Royal Society and MacArthur Fellow, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1996, he and Pat Shipman won the prestigious Rhone-Poulenc Prize for The Wisdom of the Bones. Pat Shipman is retired Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University.


The Ape in the Tree is a fine account of new ways to puzzle out the behaviors of fossilized animals from odd scraps of bones.--Robert N. Proctor"Science" (08/19/2005)
The Ape in the Tree is an engaging exposition of how fossils are found, excavated, studied and evaluated. This memoir of great scholarship and high adventure, is a must read for anyone interested in the plight of the paleontologist.--Donald Johanson, Director of the Institute of Human Origins
The Ape in the Tree, by Alan Walker and Pat Shipman, is an engaging chronicle that centers on the discovery and scientific interpretation of one of those early apes [of the Miocene epoch]...The Ape in the Tree combines adventure story with accounts of the painstaking work that underpins scientific progress. It tells of the associated history of scientific thoughts, of their development in the light of new evidence and of their subjection to preconceptions and personal ambition. Authenticity is guaranteed, as one of the authors, Walker, has been involved with the story of Proconsul for some 40 years. His anecdotes convey the excitement of digging up evidence of ancient life and the associated frustrations ('This is the list of break-downs on a brand-new machine, just for my memory when I talk to the manufacturers...'), unsettling moments ('When I looked at the belts closely, I realised they were leather strings from which dangled peculiar wrinkled objects: the testicles of the men they had killed. Their stares and their belts made us rather nervous.'), and occasionally dangers ('Get that plane up fast, Richard (Leakey)!').-- (11/18/2005)
Books about how science is done are usually interesting and The Ape in the Tree is no exception. Allan Walker and Pat Shipman successfully convey the fun of finding old bones without minimizing the hard work and tedium that so often characterize fieldwork.--Richard Leakey
Named after a performing chimp at the Folies-Bergere in Paris, Proconsul is a common ancestor of apes and humans that lived in Africa between 21 million and 14 million years ago. In this memoir, paleontotogists Walker and Shipman splice stories of their adventures excavating the animal with an analysis of its biology--as revealed by current research and by Mary Leakey, who discovered the first Proconsul skull in Kenya in 1948.-- (12/01/2005)
Proconsul lays claim to being the best known ape in the fossil record and Alan Walker and Pat Shipman tell the story of this prized fossil superbly well. Wonderfully engaging and insightful, The Ape in the Tree is sure to become a classic in the literature on human origins.--Roger Lewin, author of Principles of Human Evolution

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