Colin Groves

Extended Family: Long Lost Cousins
Colin Groves and the History of Primatology

The author of the landmark Primate Taxonomy, Colin Groves is formally known as a Professor of Biological Anthropology at the Australian National University, but he has been acknowledged as "the senior statesman, philosopher, and historian of primatology." With his new book Extended Family, Colin Groves has created a work which is both unique to its field and an essential prerequisite — a compact history of the Western world's gradually deepening awareness of the primate order.

Working from an encyclopedic knowledge of primates throughout human history, Colin Groves provides a quick-reading narrative that serves equally well as an introduction for new students or an illuminating refresher for experienced researchers. Supporting its easy flow are decades of research; a lifetime of scholarship has been expertly condensed into a survey of primates in Western science, and by extension their treatment in European art, society and philosophy. Colin Groves is as familiar with ancient Mediterranean texts and the foibles of Linnaeus as he is with the intricacies of modern-day systematics. He is best-known for his taxonomic surveys, but he has observed primates across Africa and tropical Asia, and his unique amalgam of perspectives — the behavioral, the historical, the morphological — informs every page.

At the very least, Extended Family should be included in every introductory course to primatology and physical anthropology, for its deft summary of the evolution of those entwined disciplines — and experienced primatologists will find this book a valuable resource as well, for its straightforward assessments of competing theories and their proponents. Best of all, the book is written in an easy, conversational tone, often threaded with wry humor and accessible to a broadly varied audience. It is a glittering kaleidoscope of a book — bright, colorful, always in motion — and, like Michael Jordan at his best, only Colin Groves could make it look so easy.


Extended Family is available from the publisher, Conservation International; to order a copy, you can print, fax or email the order form, or contact Jill Lucena at for more information.


Groves, C. 2008. Extended Family: Long Lost Cousins. A Personal Look at the History of Primatology. Conservation International, Arlington, Virginia, USA.