Rough and Tumble: Aggression, Hunting, and Human Evolution

Travis Rayne Pickering. Univ. of California, $29.95 (225p) ISBN 978-0-520-27400-6
In the technical literature, it was paleontologist Raymond Dart who, in the 1940s, promoted the killer ape hypothesis—the idea that humans are a bloodthirsty species whose evolution was based on their propensity to hunt and kill. His contemporary Robert Ardrey popularized this view; now, decades later, Pickering, a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin and associate editor of the Journal of Human Evolution, takes on this proposition and demolishes it. Where Ardrey claimed that “man is a predator whose natural instinct is to kill with a weapon,” Pickering asserts that the data require us to “disaggregate notions of aggression and hunting.” Like most paleontologists, Pickering agrees that “hunting was a primary factor in our becoming fully human,” but he goes on to explain that successful hunting by early humans could only occur when the aggression associated with killing was controlled by the intellect, thereby enabling individuals to work together and to distance themselves from direct and dangerous interaction with prey. Pickering provides an abbreviated but compelling history of the field, discussing dominant players as well as offering insights into how to interpret complex and fragmentary data. And while he’s no Jared Diamond, Pickering is nevertheless a capable and accessible guide. 12 b&w photos, 1 table. Agent: Deirdre Mullane, Mullane Literary Associates. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-520-95512-7
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