The Naked Ape

naked ape

The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal’ is a 1967 book by ethologist Desmond Morris which examines human behavior (he wrote a followup, ‘The Human Zoo,’ about urban behavior in 1969). Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, a sub-topic of zoology. Morris attempted to frame human behavior in the context of evolution, but his explanations failed to convince academics because they were based on a teleological (goal-oriented) understanding of evolution. However, the book was revolutionary for its time and has found fans among anthropologists and zoologists alike.

‘The Naked Ape’ depicts human behavior as largely evolved, to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as a hunter-gatherer. Morris made a number of claims in the book, including that not only does Homo sapiens have the largest brain of all primates but also the largest penis. He further claimed that our fleshy ear-lobes, which are unique to humans, are erogenous zones, the stimulation of which can cause orgasm in both sexes. Morris stated that the more rounded shape of human female breasts means they are mainly a sexual signalling device rather than simply for providing milk for infants.


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