July 1999

Editor and ESS Secretariate: Johan M.G. van der Dennen, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Groningen, Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 5/9, 9712 EA Groningen, The Netherlands, Fax: +31 50 3635635, E-mail:

Book Review Editor: Marcel Roele, Meeuwenlaan 111a, 1021 HX Amsterdam, The Netherlands, E-mail:

ISSN: 0929-0206. Published by Origin Press, Groningen, The Netherlands

Calendar of Forthcoming Meetings

* July 1-6, 1999: 15th Annual Meeting of the Language Origins Society (LOS) at Naples, Italy. Deadline for abstracts: 15 April 1999. Contact: Christina Vallini, Instituto universitario orientale, Dipartimento di studi letterari e linguistici dell'Occidente, Piazza S. Giovanni Maggiore 30, 80134 Napoli, Italia. Fax: +39 81 551-7770; e-mail:; website:
* July 4-9, 1999: Sixth European Congress of Psychology will be held in Rome, Italy. For more information please contact the scientific committee: Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Dipartimento di Psicologia, località 'Sa Duchessa' - 09123 Cagliari, Italia. Fax. + 39 70 291204; e-mail:
* July 14-16, 1999: Summer Conference of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour will be held at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal. For more information please contact: Dr. R.F. Oliveira, Fax: 351-1-8860954; e-mail:; website:
* August 2-9, 1999: XXVIth Conference of the International Ethological Society will be held in Bangalore, India. For more information please contact Dr. S. Sridhara, Univ. Agricultural Sciences, G.K.V.K., Bangalore - 560065, India, e-mail: meenal@blr-sn.IN.DHL.COM
* August 18-21, 1999: Sixth Congress of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie will be held in Utrecht, the Netherlands. For more information see the GfP website:
* August 24-28, 1999: The VIIth Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology will be held in Barcelona, Spain. The location is the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Contact person for submission of symposium proposals is: Dr. Lluis Serra, Departament de Genetica, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 645, 08071 Barcelona, Spain. Fax: +34-3-4110969, E-mail:
* September 1-4, 1999: 20th Congress of the Czech Anthropological Society & 4th International Congress of Dr. Ales Hrdlicka at Prague & Humpolec, Czech Republic). For more information please contact: Dr. M. Dobisikova, Department of Anthropology, The National Museum, Vaclavske namesti 68, 115 79 Praha 1, Czech Republic. Fax: +420 2; e-mail:
* September 2-5, 1999: The American Political Science Association has made space available to Research Committee # 12 for two panels as well as a business meeting for the 1999 program, scheduled to be held from September 2-5, 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. This opportunity may be doubly attractive, since the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences is going to, once more, sponsor a meeting concurrently with the American Political Science Association. Thus, a critical mass of those interested in the interface between biology and politics will be present in Atlanta at this time. Anyone who is interested in presenting a paper should send an abstract of the proposed paper to both Albert Somit and Steven Peterson (addresses follow at the end of this note). If you would like to serve as a panel chair or discussant, please send that information to Al Somit and Steven Peterson as well. Please send this material to us by December 31st, 1998. Addresses: Dr. Albert Somit, 276 Bright Creek Lane, Oceanside, CA 92056, USA, Fax: (619) 272-3535; Dr. Steven A. Peterson, Director, School of Public Affairs Penn State Harrisburg, 777 W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17057, USA, e-mail:; Phone: (717) 948-6154, Fax : (717) 948-6320
* September 20-24, 1999: XI Congress of the Spanish Society of Biological Anthropology at Santiago de Compostela, Spain. For more information please contact: Dr. T.A. Varela, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Laboratorio de Antropologia Biologica, 15706 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Fax: +34 98 159.69.04; e-mail:
* November 13, 1999: Symposium sponsored by the New York Chapter of the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry, St. John the Divine Cathedral, New York City, USA, on the theme: Evolutionary theory and psychopathology. For more information please contact Donald Mender, M.D., e-mail:
* December 2-3, 1999: Winter Conference of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour will be held at the Zoological Society of London, UK. For more information please contact: Celia Hayes, e-mail:

* 2000: The ESS Conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of Edward Wilson's Sociobiology, originally planned in Utrecht, the Netherlands, has been cancelled because of a similar festive and commemorative conference scheduled in San Francisco, USA, early 2000. Prof. Mark Gregory, who organized the first conference on sociobiology in 1977, is now organizing the San Francisco conference. The ESS considers this to be a unique opportunity to cooperate with the American organizers, and the ESS treasurer, Vincent Falger, is now exploring the possibility of integrating our small 25-year-anniversary conference into the much larger San Francisco program. New developments will be published on the ESS website and in the next ESS Newsletters.

* August 1-6, 2000: The XVIII World Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) will meet in Quebec City, August 1-6, 2000. This is a call for papers for the panels that will be allotted to Research Committee # 12, "Biology and Politics." If you are interested in delivering a paper, please send an abstract of the proposed paper, with your name, address, institutional affiliation, e-mail (if you have e-mail) to either: Dr. Albert Somit, Room 256, Lesar Law Building, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA; or Dr. Steven A. Peterson, School of Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg, 777. W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, PA 17037, USA (Internet:
In accordance with the IPSA deadline, could you please send your proposal to us by March 1st, 2000 at the latest (and preferably sooner). Alternatively, if you would like to serve as chair of a panel or discussant, please send that information to either Dr. Somit or Dr. Peterson at the above addresses.
* 2000: SSHB Conference on Hominid evolution in Cambridge, UK. For more information please contact: Dr. Robert Foley, University of Cambridge, Department of Biological Anthropology, Downing street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK. E-mail:
* 2000: 12th Congress of the European Anthropological Association (EAA). For more information please contact: Prof. N. Mascie-Taylor. E-mail:
* 2003: The International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) will held its 15th International Congress on Humankind/Nature interaction: Past, present and future, in Florence, Italy, 5-12 July 2003, under the Presidency of Prof. Brunetto Chiarelli. The Union's plenary congresses, held every five years, have always represented a major occasion for international researchers to meet and discuss a wide range of topics related to Man; from physical anthropology to genetics, to human ecology and ethnic conflicts. One of the aims of the Congress, in fact, is to elucidate the state of the art of this area of study. For more information please contact the Congress Secretariat Anna Lisa Bebi, e-mail:


The Evolution of Love (Westport CT: Praeger, 1997), written by ESS member Ada Lampert, has won an Outstanding Academic Book Reward for the year 1998. Congratulations Ada! See the website

Guilford Offer

Guilford Publications would like to offer the ESS members a 20% discount on the Guilford journal or newsletter of their choice. Guilford maintains a web page at where you can find full information on all the Guilford periodicals along with ordering procedures. To receive the 20% discount when ordering online enter "Dept. 1A" on the comments line of the online order form.

Bipedalism in Chimpanzee and Gorilla Forebears


Until recently, the anthropological consensus was that hominid bipedalism emerged between 4 and 5 million years ago, at about the same time that the ancestral lines leading to humans and chimpanzees separated. This traditional hypothesis maintained that while the ancestors of chimpanzees remained in the forests, continuing to live as arboreal quadrupeds, the ancestors of humans moved into the open savanna, and became bipedal terrestrialists. The various australopithecine species, according to this scenario, were evolutionarily closer to humans than they were to chimpanzees.
We believe, however, that enough evidence exists to seriously question the validity of the traditional viewpoint. Moreover, we believe sufficient evidence exists to support alternative hypotheses: that the australopithicenes were no closer relatives of humans than of the great apes of Africa, and that humans evolved not in warm and dry, but in warm and wet milieus. We propose that rather than evolving from quadruped ancestors, the last common ancestor of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas was already at least partly bipedal, and that knuckle-walking quadrupedalism evolved more recently, independently but in parallel, in both the chimpanzee and gorilla ancestors. We propose that knuckle-walking in African apes evolved as an adaptation to terrestrial quadrupedalism, in creatures that were previously waders and climbers in flooded forests. Members of the Homo genus, in our opinion, evolved nearer the coast, and developed many of their unique features as a result of a more swimming and diving existence.
Like all animals, the evolutionary history of our ancestors was influenced by a number of environmental factors. Thus, we believe many evolutionary insights can be gained by comparative analysis, in particular by comparing the parallel and convergent adaptations of different animals in similar environments.

Notes on Fossilization
Geologists note that fossilization is especially difficult in mangrove areas. Firstly, tidal water movements can spread the bones over a vast area, and secondly, the high acidity may dissolve the bony remains. Moreover, in mangrove areas the sea floor is flat, so there is almost no chance that a landslide would ever cover remains. As a consequence, mangrove dwelling hominids were less likely to have left fossilized remains, when compared to hominids living in more inland milieus.
Paleontologists now generally accept the late Colin Patterson's view that the direct ancestors of living species are unlikely to be found in the fossil record (Nelson 1998). As a result it is possible that most, if not all, fossil hominid species found to date are simply extinct side branches of the lines leading to the present living hominids. In part, it was this likelihood that led us to be extremely cautious about using the fossil record as the sole basis for attempting to develop a viable hominid 'family tree'. Instead, we adopted the practice of assembling and considering all of the credible available evidence in a comparative and systematic methodology. While the totality of all the evidence is still quite fragmented and incomplete, the multiple cross-checking process does produce a cautious confidence in the tentative scenarios it suggests.

Primate Locomotion
Most primates are four-legged tree-dwellers with very mobile joints, which enable them to stretch and straighten their limbs to reach, climb and leap through trees. Because of this locomotor flexibility they can also adopt a bipedal gait by extending their knees and hips.
Some primates adopt this bipedal gait when they wade through water. For example, the western lowland gorilla has been observed wading on its hind limbs through forest swamps in search for edible sedges and aquatic herbs (Chadwik 1995, Doran and McNeilage 1997).

The mangrove-dwelling proboscis monkeys also cross stretches of water to move from one mangrove tree to another, and they always walk on two legs when making these treks; in fact, they are even sometimes seen using bipedal locomotion on dry ground (Morgan 1997).
It is important to note, however, that the bipedal wading gait referred to above, is very different to the hopping bipedalism that some primates use when moving on the ground. This latter gait incorporates bent knees and hips rather than the linear stature preferred for wading. The advantage of the erect wading posture is that it allows primates to hold their body, arms and head as far as possible above the water surface, allowing them to cross deeper stretches of water.
Rightly or wrongly, most anthropologists still base their estimates of when human bipedalism emerged on the available fossil evidence. Up until a few years ago, this evidence was used to suggest that bipedalism arose some four million years ago in a savanna environment. Recent studies, however, as well as fossil finds such as Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus anamensis, have forced a reconsideration of this traditional view. Today, most anthropologists accept that bipedalism emerged earlier, and that it probably emerged in a wooded or forested habitat (Tobias 1998).
We believe the common ancestors of chimpanzees, gorillas and humans formed a population which waded in mangrove forests somewhere between what is now the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea. There is presently no evidence to discount the idea that hominid bipedalism evolved in a milieu where both trees and water were present. Most if not all early hominid fossils have been discovered in then forested areas close to water (e.g. Radosevich et al. 1992, Rayner 1993). However, it is important to note that although in our opinion the last common hominid ancestor was a regular wader, it almost certainly continued to use the trees for refuge, sleep and food gathering.

Hominid Ancestry
Humans belong to the hominoids, the biological group that consists of the lesser apes (hylobatids) and the great apes (pongids and hominids). Today, hylobatids (gibbons and siamangs) and pongids (orang-utans) live in Asia, whereas hominids (humans, chimpanzees and gorillas) live in Africa. But in the period of 12 to 8 million years ago, the great apes that had pongid and/or hominid features, such as Dryopithecus, Graecopithecus, Ankarapithecus and Sivapithecus, lived in Europe, Anatolia and India (e.g. Andrews 1995, Algaput et al. 1996). This suggests Asian pongids and African hominids may have split somewhere near the Middle East (Stewart and Disotell 1998).
We believe a basic hominid population may have clustered somewhere around what is now the Arabian Peninsula, which once formed part of the African continent. This cluster may have given rise to different offshoots that entered the African inland following rivers upstream. These migrations, in our opinion, led to the australopithecines and to the African apes. Meanwhile, a part of the population remained at the coast where they became efficient swimmers and divers, later returning to the land and becoming predominantly terrestrial bipeds.
According to molecular evidence, the great apes split into pongids and hominids some 13 to 10 million years ago. In the hominid group, the ancestral line leading to the gorillas separated from the line leading to humans and chimpanzees about 8 to 6 million years ago, and the ancestors of chimpanzees and humans separated between about 6 and 4 million years ago.
We propose that the ancestral line leading to the gorilla branched off from the stem hominid group when it moved from the coastal mangrove forests into the African interior, perhaps by following the rivers and gallery forests of the African Rift Valley. It is not impossible that this ancestral line might have given rise to the very large australopithecine species such as Australopithecus boisei (Kleindienst 1975).
The ancestral chimpanzee population probably moved from the coast to the African interior a few million years after the gorilla, also by following rivers and gallery forests. By the time the ancestral lines leading to humans and chimpanzees separated, they may have inhabited coastal forests on different parts of the Indian Ocean coast, including the east African coast.
It seems probable that many inland hominid branches would have evolved in parallel. As they followed the rivers upstream, shellfish would have become rarer, and therefore other plant and animal food would have replaced any shellfish in the diet. Hence, the inland populations would have become more herbivorous and spent less and less time in the water. Because the ancestors of chimpanzees stayed longer at the coast than the ancestors of gorillas, we would expect them to be more omnivorous, because there was more opportunity for harvesting shellfish on the coast than there was in more inland milieus.

The Emergence of Homo
In our view, the stem hominid population, in the meantime, remained in forests near the coast, where they became more and more adept at exploiting the available aquatic resources. We believe this population gave rise to the various Homo species. Initially, they may have partly fed on the oysters fixed to the mangrove trunks that would have been exposed at low tide in these areas. This high-caloric and highly nutritious diet could have been important for building and fuelling a large brain. Note that the long-chain polyunsaturated lipid ratios of tropical fish and shellfish are more similar to the ratios in the human brain than any other food source known (Broadhurst et al. 1998).
Presumably, these hominids had thick tooth enamel (Martin 1985), like earlier hominoids such as Graeco-, Ankara- and Sivapithecus, and later Australopithecus. Enamel is extremely hard, and thick enamel is typical of species like orang-utans, capuchin monkeys and sea otters that eat hard foods such as hard-shelled nuts and mollusks. Walker (1981) even wrote: "If, for example, a mammalogist who knows nothing about hominids were asked which mammalian molar most resembled those of Australopithecus, the answer would probably be the molars of the sea otter (Enhydra lutris). This species possesses small anterior teeth, and large, flat molars with thick enamel." Walker believes the thick enamel in sea otters is not for cracking shells, but for the occasional hard inclusions inside the shells which would otherwise damage the dentition.
Tool use is seen in many animals, but perhaps the most obvious mammalian examples, with the exception of humans, are capuchin monkeys, chimpanzees and sea otters. They all try to open hard-shelled foods by hammering them with hard objects. Sea otters, for instance, crack open shellfish with stones while floating on their backs. Capuchins crack open nuts and shellfish with stones, and Fernandes (1991) reports that mangrove capuchins even use oyster shells where stones are not available. Chimpanzees also crack open nuts with stones. It seems likely, therefore, that tool use in hominids may have begun with shellfish or nut eating.
We propose that our ancestors began using hard objects as tools to remove or crack open the shellfish that grew on the trunks of the mangrove trees in the forests in which they lived. For the hominids that moved inland, away from the coastal areas where mollusks would have been more common, stone tool use may have been confined to the occasional cracking open of nuts, as seen in chimpanzee populations today. For the hominids that stayed near the coast, however, tool use would have remained an essential behavioral adaptation, and perhaps the extraordinary stone tool industries we associate with the various Homo species is a reflection of their long association with coastal milieus.
All diving mammals have the ability to take a deep breath at will whenever they intend to dive. Many of them, like dolphins and seals, also have larger brains than land mammals of equal size. Today, breath-hold diving is practised by some subsistence human cultures that gather shellfish. Voluntary breath control, which makes such activities possible, is an aquatic or marine adaptation, and this is clearly illustrated when one compares the human respiratory system with non-human primates and aquatic mammals.
Many primates, like gibbons, and other arboreal animals have an aptitude for vocal and musical expression. They share this capacity for making and interpreting a wide range of sounds with many marine mammals. Vocalization was probably a very important communicative device in an aquatic environment, where more traditional devices such as smell and body language would have been less effective. This, combined with an inherent talent for complex vocal exchange, as well as voluntary breath control and a large brain, may have been the prerequisites for human language.
The totality of the available evidence leads us to propose that the Homo genus evolved from part-time bipedal waders and beach-combers with longer legs, who gradually became also more suited to swimming and diving, and who, as a result, developed a more streamlined and linear body and a larger brain. Eventually, these long-legged Homo species colonized coastal areas and river valleys in Asia, Africa and Europe, where they probably used their tool-using skills to exploit other available resources such as scavenged carcasses of hippos and other mammals. The Javanese Mojokerto fossil, discovered in a river delta amid marine and freshwater mollusks (Ninkovich and Burckle 1978), probably 1.8 million years old, might well be the oldest Homo erectus fossil ever discovered. There is even archeological evidence that Homo erectus reached the island of Flores, in Southeast Asia, some 800 000 years ago, well before any evidence of boat building appears in the archeological record (Morwood 1998, Tobias 1998). We propose that Homo erectus's superior swimming skills enabled them to cross the great natural water barrier now known as Wallace's line.
Eventually, at least some of these long-legged hominid species returned to a more terrestrial existence. But just as Homo species may never have ceased being at least partly terrestrial, it is possible that no Homo species ever ceased being at least partly aquatic either. When members of the Homo genus did become more terrestrial, they were unable to revert to knuckle-walking quadrupedalism, like gorillas and chimpanzees, because, whereas gorillas and chimpanzees evolved directly from short-legged climbing-and-wading 'aquarborealists', Homo was already a long-legged swimmer and diver with a more linear build.
Terrestrial bipedalism has many disadvantages. For example, it is a slower form of locomotion than quadrupedalism, is more conspicuous, less energy efficient and leads to many ailments such as backaches, hip and knee problems. However, as we know, it also has many advantages, mainly associated with the freeing up of the hands so that they can be used to carry food, water, babies and tools.
We believe the semi-aquatic phase helps explain human features such as furlessness, subcutaneous fat and voluntary breath control, features unique among the primates, but common within various water mammals such as seacows, hippopotamuses, walruses, dolphins and whales. It may also help explain why we are much more efficient swimmers and divers than other primates (Bender 1999, Schagatay 1996).
In our opinion, it should not be a question of whether members of the Homo genus were ever aquatic, but rather how aquatic were they. For example, the fossilized remains of Neandertals, traditionally viewed as fully terrestrial, have been discovered exclusively next to coastlines and rivers. Moreover, the presence of ear exostoses (bony outgrowths of the ear canal, a condition only seen after life-long diving in modern humans) is evidence that at least some Neandertal individuals practised frequent diving, and traces of cattails on some stone tools suggest their diet included aquatic plants (Shreeve 1995). We believe Neandertals evolved from even more water-based Homo erectus populations that moved up the rivers from the coasts into the Eurasian interior. Like some modern human populations such as the Korean Ama, they probably maintained elements of a wading or diving lifestyle.

Our hypothesis proposes that the last common ancestors of the African hominids lived in coastal mangrove forests, where they waded bipedally and were omnivorous, supplementing their mainly herbi-frugivorous diet with shellfish. This stem species, in our opinion, remained near the coast, while the ancestors of the gorillas and chimpanzees migrated inland along the gallery forests. These populations, as well as giving rise to the chimpanzees and gorillas that inhabit the central African forests today, may have given rise to some Australopithecus species.
The population that remained near the coast, due to geological factors, left fewer fossilized remains. This coastal population gave rise to the various species of the Homo genus: long-legged, big-brained hominids, very capable swimmers and divers, able to take full advantage of the plentiful available resources naturally associated with a coastal milieu. These hominids populated the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean and moved up rivers into the interiors of Asia, Africa and Europe. It was during this period of our evolutionary past, in our opinion, that many unique human features evolved, including long legs, big brains, voluntary breath control, fur loss, the adoption of subcutaneous fat and infant tolerance to immersion. In addition, this semi-aquatic phase could help explain the development of our unique tool manufacturing industries and language use.
According to this hypothesis, various members of the Homo genus, at different stages, returned to a more terrestrial lifestyle. Perhaps some populations remained part-time swimmers and divers while also becoming part-time terrestrialists. We believe that, unlike the forebears of gorillas and chimpanzees, who were able to revert to knuckle-walking quadrupedalism when they returned to a more terrestrial environment, the long-legged Homo species had no such opportunity. Instead, they were forced to revert to long-legged bipedalism, the best and perhaps only terrestrial locomotion option available.
This hypothesis, in our opinion, is detailed enough that it can be tested against new evidence, as it becomes available, and can also be used as a predictive tool. As such, its success or failure will either confirm or negate its value as the basis for a potentially definitive theory of human evolution.

Algaput B., Andrews P., Fortelius M., Kappelman J., Temizsoy I., Celebi H. and Lindsay W., 1996. A new specimen of Ankarapithecus meteai from the Sinap Formation of central Anatolia. Nature, 382: 349-351.
Andrews P., 1995. Ecological apes and ancestors. Nature, 376: 555-556.
Bender R., 1999. Die evolutionsbiologische Grundlage des menschlichen Schwimmens, Tauchens und Watens. Bern, Switserland: University of Bern.
Broadhurst C. L., Cunnane S. C. and Crawford M. A., 1998. Rift Valley fish and shellfish provided brain-specific nutrition for early Homo. British Journal of Nutrition, 79: 3-21.
Chadwik D., 1995. Ndoki - last place on earth. National Geographic, 188: 2-43.
Doran D. M. and McNeilage A., 1997. Gorilla ecology and behavior. Evolutionary Anthropology, 6: 120-130.
Fernandes M. E. B., 1991. Tool use and predation of oysters by the tufted capuchin in brackish water mangrove swamp. Primates, 32: 529-531.
Kleindienst M. R., 1975. On new perspectives on ape and human evolution. Current Anthropology, 16: 644-646.
Martin L. B., 1985. Significance of enamel thickness in hominoid evolution. Nature, 314: 260-263.
Morgan E., 1997. The aquatic hypothesis. London: Souvenir.
Morwood, M.J., O'Sullivan, P.B., Aziz, F. & Raza, A. (1998). Fission-track ages of stone tools and fossils on the east Indonesian island of Flores. Nature, 392, 173-6.
Nelson G., 1998. Colin Paterson (1933-1998). Nature, 394: 626.
Radosevich S. C., Retallack G. J. and Taieb M., 1992. Reassessment of the paleoenvironment and preservation of hominid fossils from Hadar, Ethiopia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 87: 15-27.
Rayner R. J., Moon B. P. and Masters J. C., 1993. The Makapansgat australopithecine environment. Journal of Human Evolution, 24: 219-231.
Schagatay E., 1996. The human diving response - effects of temperature and training. Lund, Sweden: University of Lund.
Shreeve, James (1995). The Neandertal Enigma: solving the mystery of modern human origins, p. 160, New York: Morrow.
Stewart C.-B. and Disotell T. R., 1998. Primate evolution: in and out of Africa. Current Biology, 8: R582-588.
Tobias P. V., 1998. Water and Human Evolution. Out There, 35: 38-44.
Walker A., 1981. Diet and teeth - dietary hypotheses and human evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 292: 57-64.


Paul R. Abramson & Steven D. Pinkerton (Eds.) (1995) Sexual Nature / Sexual Culture. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-00181-4 (hdbk) UKú51.95 US$74.75. ISBN 0-226-00182-2 (pb) UKú15.95 US$22.95. Pp. xvii + 416.

by MARINA BUTOVSKAYA, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Leninsky Prosp. 32a, Moscow, 117334, Russia.

One can hardly find a topic more central for sociobiological disputes than sexual nature and sexual nurture. The reason is quite evident: the main sociobiological paradigm emphasizes inclusive fitness and reproductive success. The evolution of mating strategies and sexual selection in man and animals are being widely discussed.
Choice of mate, marital success, costs and benefits of monogamy and polygyny for both sexes, and evolution of homosexuality are the topics presented in four of the recent issues of Ethology and Sociobiology (1996, Vol.17, # 1-4). Twelve papers out of the twenty address biological and cultural interaction in reproduction. However, sex, at least in humans, is not restricted to reproduction (in societies practising contraception), and the existence of a variety of cultural practices like prostitution, pornography, and erotic shows makes it necessary to view sex as a source of pleasure, psychological self-realization and a means of establishing close social ties.
Sexual Nature and Sexual Culture is one of the very few that discusses these nontraditional issues. The monograph is a result of the multidisciplinary conference "Theorizing Sexuality: Evolution, Culture and Development" held in Portugal in 1993, and its main focus is on sexual pleasure and its role in the life of human and nonhuman primates. The material is arranged in such a way as to present the broadest possible view of sex and nonreproductive aspects of sexuality from the phylogenetic, evolutionary, primatological, neuroendocrinological, crosscultural and other standpoints. Deviating from the traditions of both natural and cultural sciences, this book can be highly stimulating for sociobiologists.
By the late 60s the crosscultural approach to human sexuality, first developed by Margaret Mead and Bronislaw Malinowski, had been virtually abandoned. The disagreement between biologists and social scientists has materialized in the conceptual split between sex (biology) and gender (culture). Since the 60s, social scientists perceived gender relations (marriage) as idealized norms and institutions without regarding the sexual component. The conceptual dichotomy between sex and gender has resulted in categories of 'the biological' and 'the cultural' and in the conflict between constructivism and essentialism.
Sexual behaviour has received amazingly little attention. Scientific matters have been placed secondary to medical concerns. Such medicalization of the subject was fit in with the official taboo on discussing sex as a normal human activity. This attitude was apparently rooted in the idea of original sin and the official view of the Christian religion which regarded nonreproductive sex as something dirty and bestial. It is quite evident, however, that sex in humans can no longer be interpreted as a purely reproductive strategy. Unlike most mammals, humans are sexually active not only during periods of oestrus. They can, and do, practice sex primarily for the sake of pleasure and psychological comfort. Sex has a strong solicitive component. Also, as seen in humans and other primate species like bonobos, stumptail macaques, and others, it can function as a stress-reducing device as well as an agonistic buffering mechanism (Chapter 3).
The Judeo-Christian tradition was not the only reason why the role of sex in human psychology and culture was denigrated. Darwinian theory, with its accent on procreation, may be the second reason. The book is highly valuable in that it opens up a new field for sociobiological studies linked with evolutionary aspects of sexual pleasure and its adaptive value, and thus seeks to unite sexology with Darwinism.
Using a multidisciplinary approach, the phenomenon of sexual pleasure is examined at three levels: individual (ontogenetic and adaptive-behavioural), societal (historical), and ideological (cultural). The data and theories are centred around four major aspects: evolutionary origins, biology and behaviour, cultural dimensions, and quantitative models and measurement. Rather than being a mere collection of theories and approaches, the book is a source of valuable evidence, collected by primatologists, human psychologists, endocrinologists, and anthropologists from both physical and social fields of research, concerning sex in humans and other primates.
Chapter 1 by Abramson & Pinkerton raises general questions concerning the relationship between nature and nurture, their dynamics and mechanisms. Ever since Tylor's definition of culture as 'formalized nurture,' it has become traditional to view culture and nature as mutually exclusive. Indeed, both biologists and humanitarians have insisted that it was their own discipline that should have the final say in explaining human social practices. In fact, the dispute was an extreme example of disintegration between the sciences and humanities. Abramson's and Pinkerton's claim (p.5) that an interactionist approach is "the only viable means" of understanding the complexity of human sexual behaviour is prompted by the present-day realities. In the modern Western world with its highly efficient methods of contraception, sex is still being interpreted within a reproductive or pair-bonding context. The pleasure component is either overlooked or underestimated, and the striving for pleasure is not even mentioned among the topics for scholarly research.
The first two parts seem convincing. In Chapter 1, it is suggested that the concept of pleasure should provide a framework for analyzing human sexual behaviour. This approach is followed by other contributors. McDonald Pavelka, Chapter 3, approaches sex from a crossspecific perspective. She states that human sexuality is evolved primate sexuality. An intriguing panorama of transformations of sexual patterns in the course of human evolution is presented. Along with the traditional discussions on the loss of oestrus and concealed ovulation, a number of original topics are discussed including homosexuality and sexual pleasure. Pavelka claims that certain sociobiological paradigms are too adaptivist and hyperselectionist. Apparently, complementary evolutionary models are needed. The capacity for nonreproductive, self and same-sex directed sexuality, as seen in other primates, supports the idea that sexual pleasure in humans "is an evolved feature of primate sexuality" (p.32). A human's physical capacity for experiencing orgasm seems to be shared by monkeys and apes. Part of the human feeling, however, is related to language and conceptualization and is thus unique.
Chapter 3 by De Waal draws the readers' attention to the stressreducing, peace-making, and reconciliatory function of sex in monkeys and apes. The socio-sexual activities in bonobos are believed to be relevant for modelling human evolution. Sexual patterns of bonobos, which are unique among nonhuman primates, turned out to be quite human-like when revealing a variety of copulation positions, extended receptivity, active other directed oral and manual stimulation and pleasure reaction. However, bonobos do not form nuclear families with permanent relationships between a male and one or few females. De Waal cautions against the indiscriminate use of findings on bonobo pansexuality in studies of early hominids. The evolution of human family units would have been impossible without moral restrictions, taboos, a sense of shame and other cultural patterns.
Wallen discusses the male-female differences and similarities with respect to sex drive in humans and other mammals in Chapter 4. Clearly, the gap in the physiology of sex between primates (except prosimians) and other mammalian orders is much wider than it is between humans and other primates. Who knows, maybe the female's attention to affection and communication in sexual interactions had ultimately made it impossible for the males to separate sexual interactions from social ones, thus stimulating them to form close social bonds with female partners?
Chapter 5 is written by Symons who takes a traditional sociobiological standpoint, although the discipline itself is referred to as evolutionary psychology. The tendency to avoid the term 'sociobiology' with all its possible connotations is typical of the current American scholarship (see e.g. Robert Wright, The Moral Animal, 1994). Females' attraction is discussed with reference to nubility and fecundity in an environment of evolutionary adaptedness. It is supposed that in early hominids nubility cues were basically fecundity cues since during most of their reproductive span women were either pregnant or lactating.
In the second part of the book, the role of hormones in sexual behaviour (chapter 6, Wilson), psychoendocrinology (chapter 7, Meyer-Bahlburg) and genetics (chapter 8, Pattatucci & Hamer) of sexual orientations is discussed. Considerable gaps still exist in our knowledge of these matters. There are many more questions than answers. It is not yet agreed whether biological or cultural forces predominate in influencing gender identity and gender-specific behaviour in humans, although both are probably involved. Meyer-Bahlburg points to a paradoxical situation in sexology: although most authoritative sexological textbooks deal with disfunctions in which 'sexual pleasure' plays a prominent role, the term itself is not even mentioned. No consensus has so far been achieved regarding the diverse factors that contribute to the development of sexual orientations. The cerebral cortex is highly developed in humans and is capable of inhibiting many behaviours that are believed to be genetically controlled in other mammals. This does not imply, however, that the genetic component of human behaviour is negligible, as genes may simply play a more subtle role (Chapter 8).
Chapter 9 by Schlegel opens the third part of the book where the cultural bases of sexuality are discussed. Incest taboo, being a cultural instruction, provides a social mechanism that prevents inbreeding. Adolescent homosexuality is discussed as a temporary substitute for heterosexual relationships. Both culture and power use sex drive as an instrument for controlling group members. Here again, the existence of any sharp boundary between nature and culture may be questioned. Bailey & Aunger, chapter 10, discuss traditions in sexual culture that inadvertently increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, which is especially a problem in the Central African region. Greenberg's chapter 11 is an interesting discourse on the history of various homo- and heterosexual practices under conditions of pressure applied by culture, economics, and religion. It is shown that society manipulates the sex drive and sexual orientations of their members for its own sake. Attitudes towards homosexuals and the relevance of this practice for evolutionary theory are among the recent topics of conversation between sociobiologists and their opponents. Chapter 12 by Tuzin, 13 by Cohen and 14 by Manderson examine the problems of sexual experience, reversals and prostitution from anthropological grounds. Chapter 15 by Gregor draws the scholars' attention to the problem of love and gives the entire book a romantic aura. Anthropologists have traditionally maintained that love and romantic feelings are mainly traditional to civilized states. It has even been asked if love (an intense sexual relationship involving commitment and idealization) exists in tribal societies. The suppression of love is widely spread, and some writers have expressed the view that love is neither fundamentally human nor universal. Chapter 15 discards these statements in presenting the results of a recent cross-cultural study based on sampling 166 societies for the presence of love relationships. Romantic love was found to be present in 88,5% of the cultures covered by the sample, evidencing its almost universal distribution. The need and capacity for love appeared to be much stronger and more fundamental than any temporary demands peculiar to any culture and may well be deeply rooted in the human mind.
The last two chapters concentrate on methodological issues in the study of human sexuality. The utility of mathematical descriptions of sexual behaviour is demonstrated in chapter 16 by Kaplan and Berk. Chapter 17, by Abramson and Okami, presents interesting information on people's perception and memory concerning their own sexual experience. People used to make systematic errors and generally report more sexual activities than in reality, thus investigators ought to be very cautious when receiving information about the differences in sexual activity for different categories of respondents.
Overall, the situation with sex studies suggests that an up-to-date multidisciplinary discussion of the issue must indeed begin. The book is a really good introduction to a dialogue between natural sciences and humanities.


Roger Valentine Short & Evan Balaban (Eds.) (1994) The Differences Between the Sexes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. xvi + 479. ISBN 0-521-44411-X (Hb) UKú55.00 US$85.00; ISBN 0-521-44878-6 (Pb) UKú19.95 US$29.95.

by HAL J. DANIEL III, Departments of Biology and Anthropology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, U.S.A.

This lengthy paperback contains 22 chapters organized with six general areas - an overview, a section on somatic dimorphism across the species, one on sexual dimorphisms in organ systems, another on sex differences in behavior, the fifth on genetic and environmental control of gonaded sex, and finally, an afterwords.
In the overview, Roger Short presents the difference between sexual and natural selection referring back to Darwin's quote: "That some relation exists between polygamy and the development of secondary sexual characters appears nearly certain". (p.5). Thus, the tone of the book is established. In chapter 2, David Crews discusses the advantages of sexual reproduction as compared to parthenogenesis.
The second section, "Somatic dimorphisms across the species", contains chapters on sexual selection and the evolution of sex differences by John Reynolds and Paul Harvey, hymenoptera sexual dimorphism by J. William Stubblefield and Jon Seger, sex change in fishes by Douglas Shapiro, the mammalian weapons of sex by G.A. Lincoln and finally, a chapter on the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in primates by Roger Martin, Lesley Willner and Andrea Dettling. While all the chapters are well-written and informative, I would have included additional chapters on somatic dimorphism across species, e.g. other insect orders, a chapter or two on amphibian and reptilian somatic dimorphisms, and perhaps a general overview of mammalian somatic dimorphism. Herein lies my major criticism of the book its organization. What is said is important and necessary but I would have organized the book differently, perhaps phylogenetically. This book, in my opinion has no major sins of commission, only sins of omission and organization.
Section three "Sexual dimorphism in organ systems" has a chapter on translating gonadal sex into phenotypic sex by Jean Wilson, one on sexual dimorphism in the gonads and reproductive tracts of marsupial mammals by Marilyn Renfree, another on the rat liver by Jan-åke Gustafsson, sex differences in sound and their causes by Evan Balaban and a final chapter on brain sexual dimorphism by Manfred Gahr. Once again, I have no issues with that presented, only that which is not presented. For instance, Balaban's chapter could have discussed more on sex difference in fish sound communication, cetacean as well as other mammalian differences in sexual signification with sound. I also disagree with Professor Balaban who states there is no convincing evidence in differences between the biology of male and female human brains as they relate to communication (see M.S. Hogue et. al. Neuropsychologia 32, 1994, p. 1067-1078; H. J. Daniel, Studies in Language Origins Vol. 2 Von Raffler-Engle et. al. (eds) 1991, p. 65-75; B.A. Shaywitz et. al. Nature 373, p. 607-609, 1995). The same criticisms for Gahr's chapter: the table on "structural dimorphisms in the vertebrate central nervous system" (p. 274) is incomplete and not up to date and no references are given in support of the tabular differences presented.
The fourth section on "sex differences in behavior" is embarrassingly incomplete, discussing only birds, elephants and fruit flies. Tim Clutton Brock's chapter also seems out of place in this section. Perhaps the reader can read John Alcock's 6th edition of Animal Behavior and/or J.R. Krebs and N.B. Davies' Behavioral Ecology (4th edition), both of which more than adequately cover sex differences in behavior.
The fifth section on "genetic and environmental control of gonadal sex" attempts to focus on the "environmental, hormonal, chromosomal and genetic mechanisms responsible for producing these striking differences "(p. XV) but is also not up to date, albeit accurate and well-presented.
The final section, like most books on the topic, anthropocentrically ends with an effort to discuss the difference between male and female Homo sapiens. Both chapters in the "afterwords" are somewhat trite discussions attempting to put human sex differences in the contemporary socio-economic-political Zeitgeist. The authors should have avoided these sociological twaddles in favor of an updated, complete summary of what is known about human sex differences and what future directions the research of this important area should take. And, once again, it could be said that the book's shortcoming is not what's there but what isn't.


Del Thiessen (1996) Bittersweet Destiny: The Stormy Evolution of Human Behavior. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. ISBN 1-56000-245-X (cloth). US$44.95 UKú28.95. Pp. xiii + 420.

by KEVIN MacDONALD, Department of Psychology, California State University, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-0901, U.S.A.

Del Thiessen, Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, has produced a beautifully written volume on human behavior from an evolutionary perspective. All of the classic topics are covered, including the origins and development of evolutionary theory, human origins from other primates, life history theory, mental modules, individual differences, sexual behavior, criminal behavior, kinship, war, genocide, and much else. The volume is well worth reading for professionals in the field who are relatively unfamiliar with some of the topics covered. In general I found little that was new or original in the areas familiar to me, but Thiessen has the ability to make everything sound new and interesting. His description of the intellectual journeys of Darwin and Wallace is priceless. The opening paragraph of the book is typical of the sense of awe and wonder surrounding scientific discovery that Thiessen is able to convey to the reader:

A fateful day in retrospect, September 7, 1832. HMS Beagle, under the command of Robert Fitzroy, sailed into the small garrison port of Bahia Blanca, a godless place on the edge of Patagonia, some 400 miles south of Buenos Aires. The shallow bay, clogged with mud and colorless reeds, swarmed with thousands of crabs. Hot winds off the Argentinean sea swept across the dreary Patagonian plain. Desolate. Forbidding. Could there be anything of interest here? (p. 11)

There was a great deal of interest there of course; the bones of several long-extinct, previously unknown animals were preserved in the cliffs of Patagonia. What emerges is a portrait of Darwin as scientist and sleuth. His encounter is a microcosm of the puzzlement that ensued when scientifically inclined Europeans encountered the vast diversity of life beyond their own lands, including the strange practices of many of their own conspecifics.

Bones, bones bones-the dead thermometer of early body heat. They spoke of a distant past, another world, other beings. But all could not be read through the bones; there was the sheer diversity of life. Why? Why the uncommon natives of Tierra Del Fuego, who shaved their eyebrows, went mostly naked and coated their copper-colored skin with grease-able to withstand the stinging cold and piercing winds at the very southern tip of South America? Why the ostrich-like bird of Patagonia, now honored with Darwin's name, Rhea darwini, when, if disturbed in the nest, would chase a man on horseback riding full tilt? How can anyone explain the Chilean Andes, 7,000 feet in altitude, where trees were found that once grew 700 miles away on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean?... Were the answers embedded in old theological notions, or in the dynamic nature of the earth? (p. 14)

The major virtue of the volume is that it is not written in the typical academic style one expects from a prolific academic psychologist. Rather, it is written in a highly engaging, easily comprehensible style that would be accessible to college-educated non-specialists. In this regard, I believe that Bittersweet Destiny should have had a different destiny of its own. It should have been published by a major trade book publisher at a substantially lower price and given the high profile advertising campaign that would have made it into a best seller the way so many of Stephen Jay Gould's books have been. And while much of Gould's highly engaging writing on these topics must be viewed as little more than disinformation, it is one of the major failings of the field that there has not been a widely accessible, engagingly written and essentially accurate work on the entire field of evolution-inspired research on humans. Bittersweet Destiny fills this niche but, alas, I suppose that it's destiny will be to preach to a small circle of already converted academics.


Michael Levin (1997) Why Race Matters: Race Differences and What They Mean. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-95789-6 (Hdbk). UKú51.95 Pp. x + 417.

by EDWARD M. MILLER, Department of Economics and Finance, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148, U.S.A.

For sociobiologists race is an embarrassment. It clearly exists and elementary biological theory predicts that populations that have been long isolated will differ in many ways, and there is at least a chance that some of these will prove economically and socially important, thus raising important political and scientific issues. While much of this book (and perhaps its most original part) focuses on policy issues, this review will focus on its discussion of the scientific evidence, since the European Sociobiological Society is a scientific rather than a political organization.
Professor Levin's new book, Why Race Matters, is probably the most politically incorrect academic book of recent years. It argues both that there are racial differences in ability and personality, and that these differences matter for public policy. Professor Levin's views have been controversial for years, and he has successfully defended in court his right to express them (see Pearson, 1991).
The book is organized into three major sections. The first documents that differences exist and that they are genetic. The second and third discuss why these differences matter for economic and social policy, hence the title of Why Race Matters. The empirical evidence for racial differences is strong, although seldom discussed in the academic literature, being often dismissed as due to stereotypes. Levin deals with the stereotype issue, asking why over the centuries certain beliefs about blacks, such as their low intelligence and greater sexuality have prevailed. The simplest answer is observation; the traits have been repeatedly observed.
A summary of the data on intelligence describes the differences between races. Repeated studies show a difference of about one standard deviation between whites and blacks. This empirical difference in test scores is important.
As a professional philosopher, Levin frequently focuses on issues of definition and logic. While Gardner (1983) in his theory of multiple intelligences discerns "musical", "bodily-kinesthetic," and "personal" intelligences, he is not so much disagreeing with mainstream psychometricians as merely redefining the word intelligence to include traits usually referred to as talents.
As an example of Levin's style he says (p. 51), "Calling athletic ability. . . 'intelligence' no more changes the intelligence of athletes, . . . than calling dogs 'horses' will make them whinny. The world is what it is no matter how it is described. That is why, when dispute focuses on a word, the word is best dropped and the facts restated without it. Should someone insist that whether Albert Einstein or Babe Ruth were equally intelligent is culture-relative, it is best to say that Einstein was better . . . at abstract reasoning, and Ruth better . . . at hitting baseballs, whatever these traits are called."
Levin points out how many who "make a point in argument of not understanding 'intelligence' invariably understand it in all other contexts." One of his examples is how Gould (who pretended not to understand the concept) trying to discredit the idea that brain size and IQ were correlated, pointed out "that the brain of 'the great mathematician' Karl Gauss, a man of 'genius', was not remarkably large - a fact he cites only because he agrees and expects his readers to agree that Gauss was highly intelligent."
In continuing his attack on Gould's The Mismeasure of Man, Levin critiques his accusation that psychometricians had 'reified' intelligence, pointing out that just because things do not occupy space does not mean they do not exist. Solubility can not be isolated and placed on a shelf, but yet it is a fact that sugar dissolves in water. Physical chemistry says much about solubility. Many other abstractions, such as kinetic energy, are routinely discussed in science. The philosopher's input here is useful, although at times Levin's discussion seems to be reminding the reader of the obvious (in any other context than race, readers would not have to be reminded of the obvious). This makes for tedious reading as the argument is carefully developed.
He points out that some attempts to show that intelligence in other cultures has a different meaning is often nothing more than a mistranslation. One person used what he thought was a rough equivalent to 'intelligence' in that language. Later someone else showed that the meaning of the word used was not quite what was meant by intelligence in English.
Whether an abstraction like intelligence is useful depends partially on whether it correlates with other variables of interest. Intelligence does, as Levin points out, and this article will discuss later. As a philosopher, Levin points out how positivism or operationalism (the idea that concepts have not meaning beyond the operations used to measure them) has become unpopular in philosophy of science circles. As he puts it. "At the present time, an objection like 'IQ tests predict, but so what?' would be dismissed as doctrinaire in any context other than psychometrics. Nobody belittles Maxwell's equations by saying 'they predict radio waves, but so what?'" Radio waves are taken to show the existence of the fields these equations describe. Likewise, the correlates of IQ are important, not because correlation exhausts scientific knowledge, but for the opposite reason, that they indicate the underlying reality.
Having argued that intelligence is a meaningful concept, Levin then goes on to deal with the evidence for racial differences and related questions. He takes up test bias, and the claim that the racial differences are only due to the tests being biased.
Taking Gould on again, Levin points out that even Gould (1994) agreed that tests are not biased against blacks in the statistical sense (as Levin points out, this admission is in effect a retraction of Chapter 5 of his earlier 1981 book), but argued that people are really interested in whether "blacks average 85 and whites 100 because society treat blacks unfairly". This is replacing the usual meaning of bias with a new question. As Levin points out repeatedly, an effect can be real but unjustly caused, and whether or not an effect is real, and whether it is justly caused are logically separate questions.
He presents evidence that tests predict academic performance, and job performance, as well for blacks as for whites. Interestingly, black performance is usually over predicted, not under predicted. Given the same test score, the blacks typically perform worse on the job or in employment.
There are a number of reasons for this. As Miller (1994) pointed out, Bayes' Theorem implies that the best estimate of the true ability of a person will be a suitably weighted average of their ability as tested, and the average ability of the group. This theorem has the politically unfortunate implication that when seeking the best employees, those from a low scoring group should have points deducted. Levin cites the working paper version of this, but due probably to the time delays between the first drafts of his book and its final publication, failed to update the reference.
As to evidence that the tests are unbiased it is found that blacks lag whites by about two years in their performance on tests and Asians by three years, but that the nature of the errors made (and the relative difficulty of the questions) at the same level of mental ability are similar (Jensen, 1980). If differential exposure to 'white culture' is the problem, the nature of the errors made and the relative difficulty of questions would vary greatly between the races, but they do not. Also, while it is plausible that blacks are exposed to a somewhat different culture than those (typically middle-class whites) that make up the tests, the Asians are even more culturally different and yet outperform whites.
The racial difference in IQ is well known to specialists (even if not to the media) and well discussed by them (Jensen, 1980, 1998). There has been less attention paid to racial differences in personality. Levin describes two of special interest.
One concerns self esteem. Contrary to popular belief, studies show black self esteem to typically be higher than that of whites. The wide spread belief to the contrary among the intelligentsia may be because these people believe they would have low self esteem if they had the status and school abilities of blacks.
Another very important racial difference is in time preference. In a classic experiment children were asked to fill in a very simple questionnaire, and then offered a choice of rewards. They could have a small piece of candy now, or a bigger piece next week. Black children in Trinidad were found to prefer the immediate piece more than Indian (i.e. ancestors from India) children in Trinidad (Mischael, 1961). Banfield (1974) has shown how many life decisions made differently by inhabitants of inner cities can be traced to differences in time preference. For instance, deciding not to study, or to steal a purse now, involves trading off immediate gratification for future gratification. Levin states that blacks watch 73 hours of TV per week versus whites' 50 hours, and spend twice as much per capita on movies in spite of lower incomes, which he implies is related to this trait. The fact that even at the same income level, blacks have typically accumulated less wealth than whites or Asians appears to be another reflection of this trait.
Having documented that there are racial differences in important traits, Levin then turns to possible explanations for these traits, and whether they are genetic or not. He is careful to point out that whether racial differences in traits exist, and whether these differences are inborn constitute separate questions. A difference can exist without being inborn.
After an introduction to basic genetics, Levin presents the evidence (from twin and adoption studies typically) that within races, intelligence and personality traits show considerable variability. He starts out by quoting the Snyderman and Rothman (1988) study which showed three times as many experts thought the difference between blacks and whites in intelligence was both genetic and environmental as thought it was only environmental. Even among the editors and journalists surveyed, 27% were in the both genetic and environmental camp.
Levin then goes on to present some of the evidence that has persuaded so many experts that at least part of the differences between the races are genetic (for the best and most up to date discussion of the evidence see Jensen, 1998). He starts out by pointing out that racial differences in intelligence appear from about age three. Many of the cultural explanations (schooling for instance) have not had an effect before then. He recognizes the theoretical possibility that genetics are very important for within race differences (as is well documented), but that the causes for racial differences are wholly environmental.
With a wholly environmental theory it is implausible that the heritability of a specific tests would be correlated with the racial differences in that test. Yet it has been found that the mental tests that are most heritable are those that show the greatest black white differences. For instance, Rushton (1989) found that the extent to which scores were depressed by inbreeding depression as measured in Japanese cousin marriages is correlated with black-white IQ differences. This result is easily explained by a genetic theory, but hard to explain by environmental theories. Environmental factors would normally be expected to be greater for vocabulary tests than for picture arranging, but the racial differences on vocabulary tests are less, even though one would expect vocabulary to be among the most culture sensitive of tests.

Professor Levin is a professional philosopher (City University of New York). His views on philosophy are interesting, and to me at least, original. His approach is sociobiological and assumes that human nature evolved. Recognizing that moral feelings have probably evolved, he also recognizes the possibility that they may be different in different races. He feels that the white race has evolved to have a lower rate of time preference (i.e. gives higher weights to future events), and a greater degree of altruism and willingness to obey rules. He discusses the possibility that the hunting required for survival in prehistoric Europe required group cooperation, and that this led to greater altruism among its inhabitants. Gathering required less cooperation. At one point (p.176) he argues that "Since it is easier for female gatherers in a warm climate to support their offspring, there will be less intense selection for females who prefer fidelity in their mates, hence, by what Darwin called sexual selection, less intense selection for males disposed to conform to this female demand." This is part of Miller's (1994) differential paternal investment theory, which Levin had seen and discussed with the author, although it is not mentioned. Since Levin believes there is no logical basis for saying some beliefs or traits are better than others, he notes "Hunters may regard gatherer sexual morality as loose, while gatherers regard hunter sexual morality as inhibited."
One of the interesting ideas in the book is that the degree of altruism and the rates of time preference in a population should vary together. He goes through the evolutionary logic of cooperation, discussing the famous prisoner's dilemma game. He recognizes that in such situations non-cooperating (cheating) is optimal, if one will never see a person again. However, the environments humans evolved in were ones where people lived in small bands. They regularly saw the same people repeatedly. Cheating someone hurts in the long run, because that person will not cooperate with you next time you needed his help.
The optimal solution in terms of maximizing the number of descendants depends on the weight given to the present versus the future. Suppose a high weight is given to future benefits. Then a given chance of one of the people interacted with choosing not to cooperate on future occasions will make cooperation now a more attractive course of action. Thus the traits of altruism and cooperation should have evolved so as to covary among populations and within individuals. Those with a high time preference (those who prefer near term rewards) should also be those that adopt a relatively low rate of cooperation. In contrast, I think Professor Rushton (1995) would argue that the two traits should covary together because low time preference and low altruism are both r selected traits.
The last part of the book deals with questions of why race matters. Here again, Levin's role as philosopher comes in. He argues that whether the causes of black poverty and suffering is genetic is indeed important. If it is due to something that white people did, possibly the blacks have some claim for compensation (although the question would still have to be addressed of whether the whites now living were the ones who owed the compensation). However, Professor Levin argues that the black problems are due to genetic causes. Since no one is responsible for their own genes or for the genes of other people, this absolves the white community (and white individuals) of responsibility for black problems.
He uses the example of a man with an inherited limp in one leg. Out of politeness we may pretend not to notice his handicap. However, if he sues us claiming we caused his limp, it is a perfectly proper defense to present evidence that he was born with the problem. Thus, the importance of the causes for black low intelligence and temperament. They help fix responsibility.
He discusses in detail the various rationales for affirmative action, showing that most of them eventually depend on whites having unjustly caused the black problems.
Levin ends his book with a discussion of crime, which deals both with the causes of racial differences in crime (after documenting that they do indeed exist), and with the provocative idea that perhaps it would be justified for citizens and for the police to take the known racial differences into account. He argues for instance, that if a policeman sees two black youths go into a store at the same time as he see two Chinese youths go into another, he is justified in choosing to walk past the store with the black youths inside, because he is more likely to deter a crime that way.
Readers will find many provocative facts and ideas in Levin's book. Why not take a look for yourself?

An earlier version of this review was published in the Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Vol. 23 (Summer, 1998), 360-366.

Banfield, E. (1974). The Unheavily City Revisited. Boston: Little Brown.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of the Mind. New York: Basic books.
Gould, S. (1981). The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton
Gould, S. (1994). Curveball. The New Yorker, Nov. 28, 139-149.
Herrnstein, R. & Murray, C. (1994). The Bell Curve. New York: The Free Press.
Jensen, A. R. (1980). Bias in Mental Testing. London: Methuen.
Jensen, A. R. (1998). The G Factor. Westport: Praeger
Miller, E. (1994). The Relevance of Group Membership for Personnel Selection: A Demonstration Using Bayes Theorem, Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Vol. 19 No. 3, 323-359.
Mischael, W. (1961). Father-absence and delay of gratification: cross-cultural comparisons. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 63, 1, 116-124.
Pearson, R. (1991). Race, Intelligence, and Bias in Academe. Washington: Scott-Townsend.
Rushton, P. (1989). Japanese inbreeding depression scores, predictors of cognitive differences between blacks and whites. Intelligence 13, 43-51.
Rushton, J. P. (1995). Race, Evolution and behavior: A life history perspective. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
Snyderman, M. and Rothman, S. (1988). The IQ Controversy, the Media and Public Policy. New Brunswick, Transaction Books.

Wallace's Idea: A Reflection

by BEN HOFFSCHULTE, Naamsestraat 62, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Recently I read in an edition of Wallace's Essays about his negative view of the applicability of natural selection to the emergence of Homo sapiens. His idea of different levels of law for the explanation of different levels of complexity seems to be of lasting relevance. But his criticism of darwinian overstatements did not prevent him from defending Darwin against inadequate refutations.
The sociobiological theory of gene-culture-coevolution contains the recognition that there are different levels of complexity which are not equally fit for elucidation by natural selection. A 'wallacian' caution against darwinian overstatements is as valid today as it was a century ago, but the same applies to inadequate refutations.
In his review of Van der Dennen's The Origin of War Van Creveld rightly states that the book is rather an encyclopedia of theories on the subject than a real theory itself. Van der Dennen's conclusion that war is really about reproductive success is more of a darwinian petitio principii and does explain very little indeed if the complexities of 'civilized' war are at stake.
It would be wrong, however, to expect a scientific theory of war to not only explain the phenomenon, but also justify it for particular purposes. A commander in the field has little patience for a scientific explanation of war, but wants to know what to tell his soldiers who are about to fight and possibly die on the battlefield. If he tells them that they have to fight for the reproductive success of his lord they are not likely to be properly motivated. But science cannot supply motivation. A civilized war is not a scientific war, but a war with civilized objectives which are really worth fighting for. The selection of civilized objectives of war is an example of the processes which are not governed by natural selection alone; it is the process of civilization itself. But even without civilized objectives the bellicose nature of the species or at least of dominant males is likely to have its way. To the disenchantment of many optimists we have all been able to confirm this since the end of the Cold War.
Van Creveld seems to suppose that the informants of 'primitive' peoples would have been honest enough to reveal the true objectives of their more or less ritualized wars. This expectation reveals a naïve ignorance of human deceit and self-deception. Obviously the motive for any war is indignation concerning some abomination which can arouse passions. But physical injuries, destroyed gardens or stolen pigs can really affect the long-term reproductive success of the damaged tribe if they are not quickly punished with adequate vengeance so as to enhance the practise of civilized coexistence. This is what happens all the time in our 'civilized' world today.
A darwinian theory of human warfare would benefit from being somewhat more 'wallacian' in the sense that the process of finding honorable objectives of war is allowed to transcend the domain of mere natural selection. But this higher, responsible, spiritual process is not without roots in nature and can easily fall prey to nasty forms of regression. The ancient Romans knew that ubi iudicia deficiunt incipit bellum (where justice fails, war begins). The very prosaic biological roots of human warfare are in fact a constant reminder of the need to establish and expand structures of justice which are adequately defended by educated soldiers.
Sociobiology cannot really be of any help in this higher process of civilization, but it can very well describe the abyss which would swallow civilization if the discovery of honorable objectives of war and the expansion of structures of justice fail to receive the attention which they deserve.
I may conclude by once more riding my favorite sociobiological hobbyhorse. It is obvious that the discovery of honorable objectives of war supposes a proper study of the nature and scope of virginity. A good soldier should also be a gentleman!