Red Ape book press release

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Thu Jan 6 16:11:09 CST 2005

Publication date: January 4, 2005

Contact: Paul Gilbert

Phone: 212-340-8151

paul.gilbert at

New book reveals that mankind's closest relatives are NOT chimpanzees



Orangutans and Human Origins

By Jeffrey H. Schwartz


      We've all heard that chimpanzees are our closest relatives-that, in fact, they share 98 percent of their genes with us.  But what evidence supports these often-repeated commonplaces?  Very little, concludes physical anthropologist Jeffrey Schwartz in THE RED APE: Orangutans and Human Origins (Westview Press, January 4, 2005).  In this keenly insightful demolition of conventional wisdom on the family relationships between apes and humans, Schwartz provides a fresh examination of fossil evidence, modern anatomy and physiology, and DNA.  He argues that it is not chimpanzees or other African apes that are humankind's closest cousins, but Asian orangutans.  The result is a compelling challenge to what we think we know about the origins of humans, and about the pursuit of science


      Schwartz analyzes myriad recent fossil discoveries, and reveals the embarrassing fact that orangutan and human teeth are so similar that they have commonly been misidentified for each other in the fossil record, even by experts.  New material provocatively addresses whether molecules and DNA are more reliable than fossils and anatomy in assessing evolutionary relationships.  Numerous new plates and drawings illustrate the text.

# # #


About the author:

JEFFREY SCHWARTZ is a Professor of Physical Anthropology and of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh.  He is also a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.  The author/co-author of ten books, including the first detailed descriptive and photographic series on the human fossil record, and over 150 articles, he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



Orangutans and Human Origins

Revised and Updated

By Jeffrey Schwartz

Published by Westview Press, A Member of the Perseus Books Group

Publication Date: January 4, 2005

Hardcover/$27.50/304 pages


ISBN: 0-8133-4064-0


Advance Praise for THE RED APE


"Archaeological, anthropological and molecular evidence continues to force us to re-examine our origins. This updated book on the link between orangutans and human origin provides new and important perspectives on the latest debates. While controversial, it is fascinating reading. In the current debates, it is not so much a matter of being right or wrong but being willing to keep an open mind and to explore alternative explanations. In that Professor Schwartz has excelled and has produced a volume both challenging and engaging."

      -Prof. Gisela Kaplan, Ph.D., Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour, University of New England, Australia


"THE RED APE is the most important contribution to understanding human evolution since Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man. In this new, completely revised edition of THE RED APE, Jeffrey Schwartz opens a fascinating window onto the science of human evolution and marshals the necessary evidence to give scientific credibility to the theory that the orangutan is our nearest living relative. THE RED APE shows that a scientific discourse on the orangutan theory must be established within the disciplines of paleo- and molecular anthropology if they are to remain viable endeavors. No anthropologist, systematist, evolutionary theorist, or educator can afford not to read this book. THE RED APE will change the way you see yourself, the orangutan, and the world of evolution that brings us together."

      -Dr. John R. Grehan, Director of Science and Collections, Buffalo Museum of Science



More Advance Praise for THE RED APE


"As provocative and captivating as he was in Sudden Origins, with passionate discourse and humor Jeffrey Schwartz covers an extraordinary amount of information across many disciplines that supposedly links humans with chimpanzees. Slowly, he shows that studies on human-chimp relatedness, whether based on morphology or DNA sequencing, have intrinsic cultural, philosophical and methodological flaws. Fascinating and highly readable, THE RED APE does not simply criticize the 'accepted' human-chimp theory in order to promote the orangutan as our closest living relative. It is a commentary on scientific method and theory and a lesson in how to deal critically with data, not 'feelings.'"

      -Prof. Bruno Maresca, University of Salerno


"Jeffrey Schwartz is the most original thinker in paleoanthropology today.  In this thoroughly revised edition of a classic book he presents a compelling argument that many of our species' peculiarities are in fact the legacy of our close relationship with the remarkable Asian orangutan.  Along the way he explores the many ways in which we attempt to understand our own place in nature, and presents a novel perspective upon the evolutionary process itself.  A must-read for anyone interested in how our astonishing species got to where it is today."

      -Ian Tattersall, author of Becoming Human and The Monkey in the Mirror 


"In this updated edition of THE RED APE Jeffrey Schwartz chisels away at chronic flaws in the theory that the pygmy chimpanzee is our closest relative. Our understanding of human nature is indebted to Schwartz's perseverance in the face of overwhelming opposition. THE RED APE is a classic."

      -Donald Perry, author of Life Above the Jungle Floor


"THE RED APE raises profound questions about scientific reasoning, about the interpretation of biological data, and about what we believe to 'know.'  This book represents a passionate account of an ongoing struggle of scientific ideas. And it reminds us of the duty to look after the big red apes who might become extinct before we realize that they were our closest evolutionary cousins."

      -Gerd B. Müller, Department of Theoretical Biology, University of Vienna



Dr. John R. Grehan

Director of Science and Collections

Buffalo Museum of Science1020 Humboldt Parkway

Buffalo, NY 14211-1193

email: jgrehan at

Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372



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