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Foreword

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 November 2009

Sarah B. Hrdy
Affiliation:
University of California – Davis
Carel P. van Schaik
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
Charles H. Janson
Affiliation:
State University of New York, Stony Brook
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Summary

Science does not deal in certainty, so “fact” can only mean a proposition affirmed to such high degree of certainty that it would be perverse to withhold one's provisional assent.

(S. J. Gould, 1999)

“Quite possibly, readers ten years from now may take for granted the occurrence of infanticide in various animal species,” Glenn Hausfater and I rashly conjectured back in 1984, in a preface to the first book on this subject, “and [they] may even be unaware of the controversies and occasionally heated debate that have marked the last decade of research on this topic…”. For biologists, that projection turned out to be more or less accurate. For those with backgrounds in the social sciences, perhaps especially in my own field of anthropology, it was wildly optimistic.

Most animal behaviorists now take for granted that the killing of infants by conspecifics can be found throughout the natural world and that, for many primate species, the arrival in their group of unrelated males represents a threat to infant survival. Many anthropologists, however, remain skeptical of the proposition that a propensity to attack infants born to unfamiliar females evolved in non-human primate males because it increased their chances to breed. This would require accepting that a behavior obviously detrimental to the survival of the group or even the species could evolve in males through Darwinian sexual selection because it provided the killers with a reproductive edge in their competition with rival males.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2000

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  • Foreword
  • Edited by Carel P. van Schaik, Duke University, North Carolina, Charles H. Janson, State University of New York, Stony Brook
  • Book: Infanticide by Males and its Implications
  • Online publication: 04 November 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511542312.001
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  • Foreword
  • Edited by Carel P. van Schaik, Duke University, North Carolina, Charles H. Janson, State University of New York, Stony Brook
  • Book: Infanticide by Males and its Implications
  • Online publication: 04 November 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511542312.001
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Foreword
  • Edited by Carel P. van Schaik, Duke University, North Carolina, Charles H. Janson, State University of New York, Stony Brook
  • Book: Infanticide by Males and its Implications
  • Online publication: 04 November 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511542312.001
Available formats
×