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The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal (1967)

by Desmond Morris

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,917494,837 (3.77)45
FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY EDITION - WITH A NEW PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR Here is the Naked Ape at his most primal - in love, at work, at war. Meet man as he really is: relative to the apes, stripped of his veneer as we see him courting, making love, sleeping, socialising, grooming, playing. Zoologist Desmond Morris's classic takes its place alongside Darwin's Origin of the Species, presenting man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape, remarkable in his resilience, energy and imagination, yet an animal nonetheless, in danger of forgetting his origins. With its penetrating insights on man's beginnings, sex life, habits and our astonishing bonds to the animal kingdom, The Naked Ape is a landmark, at once provocative, compelling and timeless. 'Original, provocative and brilliantly entertaining. It's the sort of book that changes people's lives' Sunday Times… (more)
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» See also 45 mentions

English (34)  Portuguese (Brazil) (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
This book was maybe the beginning of my slow realization that we humans, no matter how special we believe we are, are still very much a part of nature. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 12, 2023 |
Okay, this was an interesting book, until I read "The Descent of Women" and the author basically eviscerated a lot of points made here. So I was watching these Stamford University behavioral biology lectures, and the professor said of evolutionary biology that it's basically about "who tells the best story." I mean, you look at the biology of humans and you get a lot of information, but to a certain degree it's just clues. There are a lot of guesses. Why do we have a lot of hair on our heads and not much elsewhere on our bodies? What kind of evolutionary advantage might that have had? The other thing that we shouldn't forget about genetics is that mutations are random, a lot of them don't have an advantage or disadvantage, and some of them were chosen not because they were advantageous, but because of an event like genetic bottleneck (for example, a volcano randomly kills most of the animals without that trait and suddenly that's the main trait not because it's better but because of a random volcano). So yes, "The Naked Ape" tells a good story, but I don't think it tells the best one or gives the best supporting evidence. ( )
  t1bnotown | Jul 17, 2023 |
8401812518
  archivomorero | Jun 27, 2022 |
When I read this as a teen, in 1967 or 8, I found it a good, illuminating look at who we humans are & why. It's been a while & much new research has come out, but this is a great place to dive in.
  RonSchulz | Jun 24, 2022 |
I dont contradict the authors statement that humans are animals and that we share some of the same urges. But I question his research and the broad way he makes wild allegations as an effort to shock the reader.

( )
  Litrvixen | Jun 23, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Morris, Desmondprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bolle, FritzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrer Aleu, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicolaas, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rijk, Peter deEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes.
One of the strangest features of previous studies of naked-ape behaviour is that they have nearly always avoided the obvious. The earlier anthropologists rushed off to all kinds of unlikely corners of the world in order to unravel the basic truth about our nature, scattering to remote cultural back-waters so atypical and unsuccessful that they are nearly extinct. They then returned with startling facts about the bizarre mating customs, strange kinship systems, or weird ritual procedures of these tribes, and used this material as though it were of central importance to the behaviour of our species as a whole. The work done by these investigators was, of course, extremely interesting and most valuable in showing us what can happen when a group of naked apes becomes side-tracked into a cultural blind alley. It revealed just how far from the normal our behaviour patterns can stray without a complete social collapse. What it did not tell us was anything about the typical behaviour of typical naked apes. This can only be done by examining the common behaviour patterns that are shared by all the ordinary, successful members of the major cultures—the mainstream specimens who together represent the vast majority. Biologically, this is the only sound approach. Against this, the old-style anthropologist would have argued that his technologically simple tribal groups are nearer the heart of the matter than the members of advanced civilizations. I submit that this is not so. The simple tribal groups that are living today are not primitive, they are stultified. Truly primitive tribes have not existed for thousands of years. The naked ape is essentially an exploratory species and any society that has failed to advance has in some sense failed, ‘gone wrong’. Something has happened to it to hold it back, something that is working against the natural tendencies of the species to explore and investigate the world around it. The characteristics that the earlier anthropologists studied in these tribes may well be the very features that have interfered with the progress of the groups concerned. It is therefore dangerous to use this information as the basis for any general scheme of our behaviour as a species.
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FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY EDITION - WITH A NEW PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR Here is the Naked Ape at his most primal - in love, at work, at war. Meet man as he really is: relative to the apes, stripped of his veneer as we see him courting, making love, sleeping, socialising, grooming, playing. Zoologist Desmond Morris's classic takes its place alongside Darwin's Origin of the Species, presenting man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape, remarkable in his resilience, energy and imagination, yet an animal nonetheless, in danger of forgetting his origins. With its penetrating insights on man's beginnings, sex life, habits and our astonishing bonds to the animal kingdom, The Naked Ape is a landmark, at once provocative, compelling and timeless. 'Original, provocative and brilliantly entertaining. It's the sort of book that changes people's lives' Sunday Times

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