Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition
Edward O. Wilson
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Harvard University Press is proud to announce the re-release of the complete original version of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis--now available in paperback for the first time. When this classic work was first published in 1975, it created a new discipline and started a tumultuous round in the age-old nature versus nurture debate. Although voted by officers and fellows of the international Animal Behavior Society the most important book on animal behavior of all time, Sociobiology is probably more widely known as the object of bitter attacks by social scientists and other scholars who opposed its claim that human social behavior, indeed human nature, has a biological foundation. The controversy surrounding the publication of the book reverberates to the present day.
In the introduction to this Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition, Edward O. Wilson shows how research in human genetics and neuroscience has strengthened the case for a biological understanding of human nature. Human sociobiology, now often called evolutionary psychology, has in the last quarter of a century emerged as its own field of study, drawing on theory and data from both biology and the social sciences.
For its still fresh and beautifully illustrated descriptions of animal societies, and its importance as a crucial step forward in the understanding of human beings, this anniversary edition of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis will be welcomed by a new generation of students and scholars in all branches of learning.
interesting when it is adaptive. The patterns are likely to be not only more complex but more meaningful. Non-adaptive demography follows from a study of the behavior and life cycles of individuals; but adaptive demography must be analyzed holistically before the behavior and life cycles of the individuals take on meaning. Figure 2-2 The age-size frequency distributions of three kinds of animal societies. These examples are based on the known general properties of real species but their details
those in “nondiscriminator” populations accept eggs that vary in color, pattern, and size. In order to understand the meaning of this striking variation in both the parasite and host populations it is necessary to turn to a major enemy of both, the botflies of the genus Philornis. These insects infest many of the icterid nests, burrowing into the flesh of the nestlings and killing many of them. Oropendolas and caciques have “discovered” two ways of reducing botfly attacks. By building their
lines indicate relationships that are documented and considered to be of crucial importance; dashed lines suggest those that are still undocumented but may play at least auxiliary roles. The second class of cooperatively nesting birds is much larger, containing over 90 percent of the known species. As suggested in Figure 22-1, there appear to be several causative factors, which are complexly linked with each other. These factors have been elucidated separately in studies by several authors.
vegetation. At the same time the black-tail prairie dog has largely shifted its diet from the grasses of the undisturbed prairie to the forbs that flourish in the soil excavated from the burrow systems. This rodent has used its social life to modify the environment to its liking. Or should we say instead that the prairie dog has modified its liking to the socially altered environment? One is tempted to select the latter hypothesis, which implies that predation was indeed the prime mover and that
genealogy of morals: an attack, trans. by Francis Golffing. Anchor Books, Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. xii + 299 pp. Nisbet, I. C. T. 1973. Courtship-feeding, egg-size and breeding success in common terns. Nature, London, 241(5385): 141–142. Nishida, T. 1966. A sociological study of solitary male monkeys. Primates, 7(2): 141–204. —— 1968. The social group of wild chimpanzees in the Mahali Mountains. Primates, 9(2): 167–227. —— 1970. Social behavior and relationship among wild chimpanzees of