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The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: How Our Animal Heritage Affects the Way We Live Paperback – July 1, 2003
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"Eloquent and knowledgeable account of the tiny genetic difference between humans and chimps" * Independent * "Some biologists are just scientists; but some truly are thinkers. Jared Diamond is one of the latter. Whatever he applies himself to, his contribution is original and worthwhile" -- Colin Tudge "A fascinating portrait with more than enough uncomfortable facts to stop any dinner-party conversation in its tracks - an important book" * Financial Times * "Confirms Diamond as an impressive scholar and popularizer-an enjoyable, stimulating and audacious book" * Nature *
About the Author
Jared Diamond is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, which was named one of TIME's best non-fiction books of all time, the number one international bestseller Collapse and most recently The World UntilYesterday. A professor of geography at UCLA and noted polymath, Diamond's work has been influential in the fields of anthropology, biology, ornithology, ecology and history, among others.
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Do you believe that you are directly related to today's apes? Specifically, that you are a third species of chimpanzee? Jared Diamond makes a pretty strong case for it. Moreover DNA testing proves that chimps are our closest living relative. You may not have known it, but there are two species of chimp in the world today; the common chimp and the Bonobo or pygmy chimp. if humans are as closely related to them as DNA testing indicates, then we are clearly the third species of chimpanzee.
I recently observed the Bonobos in the San Diego zoo and I didn't know whether they were Bonobos or common chimps until I read the sign telling me that they were Bonobos. It was about two million years ago that these two chimp species had a common ancestor and after all that time elapsing, it is hard to tell them apart. It is only about 5 to 7 million years ago, that humans and chimps had a common ancestor according to DNA aging analysis yet it is obvious that we humans are very different from chimps. How did this come to be?
Jared Diamond fills the rest of his book answering that question. Much of the ground-breaking research and discovery in the story of pre-humans and prehistoric humans was done by anthropologists and their work is summarized by Diamond. Yet Diamond has lived among stone age cultures and has a large contribution to make to the discussion from that valuable experience. Moreover, Diamond is an independent thinker in the full sense of the term. He doesn't always agree with the popular scientific views and builds very good cases for his differing interpretations.
If human prehistory interests you, then I think you will enjoy this book. I found the discussion of language evolution particularly enlightening. We are the only animal in the world that can speak and write. In the same way that mutations in DNA allow us to unravel our prehistory, changes in our original language allow us to track the travels of early language-using humans. Diamond focuses on P.I.E, or Proto Indo European language, which is the basis for most of the major languages spoken in the world today. He presents a well-researched discussion of it. The popular thinking is that P.I.E, was spread geographically with the spread of agriculture starting 10,00 years ago. Diamond's view differs sharply from that belief. He associates the spread of P.I.E. with the domestication of horses and invention of horseback-riding, which was a major paradigm changer. The data fits his model better in my opinion. At this point, I invite you to read the book and join the discussion.
Ralph D. Hermansen, August 28,2015
This is one of his earlier books and I enjoyed it as much as I did his later books.
I simply like the way he develops a theme, looks in fine detail at the issues involved, and weaves in beautifully an abundance of stories drawn from his own experiences and especially his extensive travels.
His style is lucid, flowing, an easy read, providing much food for thought and a wealth of information, especially for someone like me who was not educated in the natural sciences (beyond secondary school) but is fascinated by it.
As someone passionate about the environmental health of the planet and deeply concerned about human overpopulation I share many of the writer's concerns.
For me a relaxing hour or two is reading one of Jared Diamond's books which I always find hard to put down.
A long and somewhat dissapointing work.