Primates and Paradigms

Problems with the Identification of Genetic Species
  • J. C. Masters
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


Sir Charles Lyell opened his first notebook on “the species question” in 1855 (Wilson, 1970). A hundred years later, Mayr (1957) edited a volume entitled The Species Problem. Now, 34 years on, Eldredge has opened this volume with a title that emphasizes, once again, that crucial step in understanding natural organization: “What, if Anything, Is a Species?” In recognition of this probing tradition, I have constructed this chapter around a series of questions and possible answers relating to the application of species concepts, particularly to primates. I should point out that while Eldredge has tended to deal with the ontological side of the question—what we think species really are—this contribution is directed more toward epistemological issues—how do we identify the kinds of species that we believe to exist?


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Masters
    • 1
  1. 1.Population Genetics Laboratory, Museum of Comparative ZoologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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