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Genesis of Animal Play Testing the Limits

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ISBN-10: 0262524694

ISBN-13: 9780262524698

Edition: 2006

Authors: Gordon M. Burghardt, Brian Sutton-Smith

List price: $47.00
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In The Genesis of Animal Play, Gordon Burghardt examines the origins and evolution of play in humans and animals. He asks what play might mean in our understanding of evolution, the brain, behavioral organization, and psychology. Is play essential to development? Is it the driving force behind human and animal behavior? What is the proper place for the study of play in the cognitive, behavioral, and biological sciences? The engaging nature of play -- who does not enjoy watching a kitten attack a ball of yarn? -- has made it difficult to study. Some scholars have called play undefinable, nonexistent, or a mystery outside the realm of scientific analysis. Using the comparative perspectives of ethology and psychology, The Genesis of Animal Playgoes further than other studies in reviewing the evidence of play throughout the animal kingdom, from human babies to animals not usually considered playful. Burghardt finds that although playfulness may have been essential to the origin of much that we consider distinctive in human (and mammalian) behavior, it only develops through a specific set of interactions among developmental, evolutionary, ecological, and physiological processes. Furthermore, play is not always beneficial or adaptive. Part I offers a detailed discussion of play in placental mammals (including children) and develops an integrative framework called surplus resource theory. The most fascinating and most controversial sections of the book, perhaps, are in the seven chapters in part II in which Burghardt presents evidence of playfulness in such unexpected groups of animals as kangaroos, birds, lizards, and "Fish That Leap, Juggle, and Tease." Burghardt concludes by considering the implications of the diversity of play for future research, and suggests that understanding the origin and development of play can shape our view of society and its accomplishments through history.
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Book details

List price: $47.00
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 8/11/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 520
Size: 6.75" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.760
Language: English

The Nature of Play
Play: Many Meanings, Few Answers
Footprints in the Sand: The Origins and Radiation of Play Theory
Defining Play: Can We Stop Playing Around?
A Guide to the Diversity of Play
Nothing Is Simple: Studying the Hows and Whys of Play
The Genesis of Play: An Integrative Approach
The Phylogeny of Play
The Path Through the Major Evolutionary Landscapes
Play in the Placental Mammals
The Alternate Radiation: Play in Marsupials
Does the Platypus Play?
Play Is for the Birds Too
The Cool Reptiles
The Origins of Vertebrate Play: Fish That Leap, Juggle, and Tease
Play at the Margins: Invertebrates
The Legacy and Future of Play
Animal Index
Name Index
Subject Index