Primate behavior and human universals: Exploring the gap

Peter M. Kappeler, Joan S. Silk, Judith M. Burkart, Carel P. Van Schaik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


What makes us human? This question has occupied people for millennia. A conclusive answer continues to elude us as we learn more about ourselves and other animals. A series of important discoveries over the last 50 years have led us to largely abandon the search for single traits that are unique to humans. We now know that tool use, language-like communication, lethal intergroup aggression, and an ability to anticipate future events can also be found in other species. However, humans are still quite different from other animals. So, the principal question has become: What is the nature and the width of the gap that separates humans from primates and other animals? This edited volume features a collection of essays by primatologists, anthropologists, biologists, and psychologists, who offer some partial answers to this question. In this introductory chapter, we briefly outline the background of this fundamental question about human universals and explain our emphasis on behavioral traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMind the Gap
Subtitle of host publicationTracing the Origins of Human Universals
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9783642027253
ISBN (Print)9783642027246
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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