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12 October  
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1967: The Naked Ape steps out
Zoologist Dr Desmond Morris has stunned the world by writing about humans in the same way scientists describe animals.

His new book, The Naked Ape, was published today. It was so named because out of the 193 species of monkeys and apes on the planet only man is not entirely covered in hair.

The former curator of mammals at London Zoo who is best known for planning to bring together Chi Chi the panda with Moscow's An An panda bear says he wants to popularise and demystify science.

The provocative book sheds new light on our own behaviour and society, describing our ways of "feeding, sleeping, fighting, mating and rearing young".

He highlights some surprising facts that are raising quite a few eyebrows in the scientific and non-scientific world. For example:-

  • Homo sapiens not only has the biggest brain of all primates but also the largest penis, and is "the sexiest primate alive"
  • our fleshy ear-lobes, unique to humans, are erogenous zones that have been known to provoke orgasm in both males and females,
  • the more rounded shape of human breasts means they are primarily a sexual signalling device rather than simply a milk machine.

The book has been serialised in the Daily Mirror - and with great success.

It has already netted �,000 in the USA and �,000 in the UK and Europe.

But critics of the book have labelled him "an inadequately informed amateur" who has oversimplified and distorted the way we behave by creating a zoological portrait of the human being.

Tax exiles

Dr Morris and his wife are now planning to leave Britain as tax exiles after learning that the Inland Revenue are to send him a bill of �0,000.

He told the Daily Mail newspaper: "The speed and timing of all this has rather shattered me. I am now faced with the situation where I shall probably be turning to writing as my major activity.

"It is pretty definite that I shall go abroad although I have not finally worked out the details."

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Desmond Morris pictured with baby chimpanzee
Desmond Morris compares human behaviour with that of apes


In Context
Desmond Morris began his career as head of Granada's TV and film unit at London Zoo in 1956 and went on to become curator of mammals.

Soon after The Naked Ape went on sale in the UK, Desmond Morris emigrated to Malta to avoid a hefty tax bill.

The Naked Ape, his first bestseller, was translated into 23 languages and was followed by many books and TV programmes on animal and social behaviour.

More recently he had a regular slot commenting on the body language of contestants in Channel Four's Big Brother game show.

Stories From 12 Oct


 
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