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Beauty and the Beasts: Woman, Ape, and Evolution

ISBN: 9781569472316
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: 2001-07
Number of pages: 416
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Animal magnetism . . . or a disturbance in the field?

What is it with female primatologists and their chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas? The sheer number of women in this field is startling, as are the dangers they risk pursuing their beloved subjects. Fiercely dedicated and devoted, they go to remarkable lengths to conduct their studies and to protect their great apes from poachers, revolutions, and human contamination.

It is an impressive array of scientists: Jane Goodall, of course, and Dian Fossey (who was actually killed in the field), and less celebrated women, like Mary Leakey, Shirley McGreal, Biruté Galdikas, and others, who also braved everything from civil war to enraged simians with fangs bared. Their intriguing stories are a monument to forty years of dauntless scientific endeavor. But their ineffable longing for the company of their primordial cousins, their intense identification with these primates, is an intriguing theme that runs through their professional lives at a depth that can only be described at times as intimate and mysterious.

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