The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human
A bold, illuminating new take on the love of animals that drove human evolution.
Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive―after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat―but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species' greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who coexisted with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this point, Shipman gives us a tour of the milestones in human civilization-from agriculture to art and even language―and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well. 25 black-and-white illustrations
(damage) on the tool. In forensic anthropology, this idea is known as Locard’s exchange principle: every contact between two objects or two people involves an exchange of traces. Diagnosing exactly which trace or damage was caused by what action is extremely difficult and requires a large comparative sample. Many uses produce similar damage; residues can be altered or obliterated by various natural processes; and some raw materials (like lava) simply do not hold detectable microwear. Out of
stone collections must be carefully examined.” Clues as to the identity of the maker of the other, accidentally broken stones come from estimates of the sizes of those stones prior to breakage. Because chimpanzees are much stronger than humans and have larger hands, they prefer to use larger stones as tools. For example, hammerstones from Oldowan assemblages made by early hominids usually weigh less than about 1 lb (400 g), with a maximum of about 3 lbs (1,000 g). Hammerstones used by Taï
precisely and the lack of communication matters little. But sometimes something truly important is said and understood, something perhaps that says to the other being, “This is the kind of animal I am, this is what is essential to me,” or, “If you do this, I will probably die”—a thought that frequently occurs to novice horseback riders. When communication is about something vital and urgent, it is of enormous advantage. But the ability to communicate with another species is perhaps an even bigger
well separated. They then added to their database comparable measurements on a series of seventeen “unknown” specimens that they wanted to classify. Seven of these were not truly unknown; they were five young wolves and two zoo wolves. Why include such animals as unknowns? Immature animals often look different from their adult relatives, witness the differences between a kitten’s body proportions and an adult cat’s. Zoo animals were also chosen because they are often physically abnormal, due to
“A comparative study of the stone tool-making skills of Pan, Australopithecus, and Homo sapiens,” in Toth and Schick, eds., The Oldowan: Case Studies into the Earliest Stone Age, pp. 155–222. 105 they are about five times stronger—Walker, A. 2009. “The strength of great apes and the speed of humans,” Current Anthropology, 50 (2): 229–34. 106 Nick thinks the toolmaking bonobos—N. Toth, personal communication to the author. 108 “There seems to have been much more knapping”—Davidson, I., and