BABOONS by Sarel Elmerl


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This is a generously, aptly and appealingly illustrated introduction to baboons for the younger child; it is also a strange blend of speculation and obfuscation with more or less reliable fact. The baboon is presented as the monkey who left the trees to look for food on the ground and became a fierce fighter to survive; not mentioned as such are his two distinguishing characteristics, the dog-like muzzle and the arms approximate in length to the legs indeed the latter is denied, and with it the baboon's ability to run fast which had much to do with his survival. Another odd interpretation of evolution occurs at the end, where the incidence of similarities between baboons and humans is noted, then temporized, then hypothecated without the ape-man link. The description of baboon social cohesion and controls is the strongest aspect of the book; the constant parallels with human behavior (""they are rather like team captains or class presidents"") are trite and often moralistic. Altogether it's uneven to the point of irritation, which is too bad because the photographs are fine and the information is about as full as that in Jacqueline Berrill's Wonders of the Monkey World for older children.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1968
Publisher: Simon & Schuster