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Luigi Fossati: a forgotten early primatologist and his observations on Hamadryas Baboons (Papio Hamadryas) in Eritrea

By S. Gippoliti and Bonaventura Majolo


Luigi Fossati was an Italian army officer who spent several years in Eritrea in the 1920’s. In this paper we summarise, for the first time in a scientific journal, his observations on hamadryas baboons contained in a book published in 1930. Fossati observations are discussed in light of what is currently known on hamadryas baboons. Fossati habituated a troop of baboons and described their social behaviour using a non-scientific prose. He noticed that baboons react in the appropriate way to the alarm calls of other species (e.g. vervet monkeys, birds, and antelopes). Moreover, Fossati gave a list of the potential predators of baboons. Interestingly, he gave an account of a Verreaux’s eagle predation on a young baboon, an event that has been described in a scientific journal for the first time around 70 years after Fossati’s observations. In light of these considerations, we hope this paper will help to make Luigi Fossati known by the scientific community and to consider him as one of the first field primatologists

Topics: C800 Psychology
Publisher: University of Florence/Firenze
Year: 2006
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