© 2010

Mind the Gap

Tracing the Origins of Human Universals

  • Peter M. Kappeler
  • Joan Silk


  • Explicit attempt to examine the evolutionary origins of traits that are found in all human societies (human universals)

  • Helps to identify the traits that we share with other primates as well as the traits that distinguish us from other primates so that we gain a deeper insight into what it means to be human


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Peter M. Kappeler, Joan S. Silk, Judith M. Burkart, Carel P. van Schaik
      Pages 3-15
  3. Family & Social Organization

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 18-18
    2. Ryne A. Palombit
      Pages 53-83
  4. Politics & Power

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 108-108
    2. Aimée M. Plourde
      Pages 139-152
    3. Laura Betzig
      Pages 153-168
  5. Intergroup Relationships

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 170-170
    2. Margaret C. Crofoot, Richard W. Wrangham
      Pages 171-195
  6. Foundations of Cooperation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 222-222
    2. Joan B. Silk, Robert Boyd
      Pages 223-244
    3. Venkat Lakshminarayanan, Laurie R. Santos
      Pages 245-259
  7. Language, Thought & Communication

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 282-282
    2. Dorothy L. Cheney, Robert M. Seyfarth
      Pages 283-298

About this book


What makes us human? What made us become the way we are? One way to answer these questions is to identify the traits that all humans share, traits that are universal features of all human societies. Another way to do so is to ask how humans differ from other species, particularly from our closest relatives, the nonhuman primates. The contributors to this book pursue both approaches, in an effort to understand how evolution has shaped modern human behavior and societies.


Evolution behavior coevolution culture human behaviour primate behaviour social behaviour

Editors and affiliations

  • Peter M. Kappeler
    • 1
  • Joan Silk
    • 2
  1. 1.Abt. SoziobiologieDeutsches PrimatenzentrumGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Dept. AnthropologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesU.S.A.

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

 “This edited, 22-chapter volume organizes contributions by experts from a wide range of disciplines … to address the origins and evolution of human universals--specifically, those behavioral and cognitive features that make humans a distinct species from other primates. … In looking for evidence of both convergence and common descent in specific traits, as is common in comparative primatology, contributors make a very strong effort to evaluate the available evidence for evolutionary continuity in human social behavior. … Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty.” (R. A. Delgado Jr., Choice, Vol. 47 (11), August, 2010)

“Mind the Gap, Tracing the Origins of Human Universals … a collection of contributions dealing with the issue of human uniqueness from a multidisciplinary perspective. … Mind the Gap brings together most of the ‘hot’ topics in primatology, along with interesting contributions from cultural anthropology, and, notably, draws our attention to two critical and frequently omitted aspects of comparative research, namely the importance of studying species that are evolutionarily distant from humans, and not only the great apes, and the need for more cross-cultural research.” (Elsa Addessi, Metascience, Vol. 20, 2011)