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The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  11,134 ratings  ·  462 reviews
The Development of an Extraordinary Species
We human beings share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. Yet humans are the dominant species on the planet -- having founded civilizations and religions, developed intricate and diverse forms of communication, learned science, built cities, and created breathtaking works of art -- while chimps remain animals concerned prima
Published April 3rd 2012 by Random House Audio (first published May 2nd 1991)
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Another great book from Jared Diamond. I found this to be just as engaging as Guns, Germs, and Steel, and also an easier read. I find that his books have so much information that it is helpful for me to outline them as I go. Here are my favorite bullet points from The Third Chimpanzee. Not at all a comprehensive outline, but may be of interest to some people.

Chapter 1
- Our ancestors diverged from other apes around 7 million years ago.
- We share 98.4% of DNA with common chimps.
- Chimps are more c
Riku Sayuj

Original review: The audience called for an encore and Jared obliged. The rewind was not as much fun.


The Homosexual Chimpanzee?

However, this book has some great explanations on human sexuality but does not address one which I was not able to find a satisfactory explanation for, evolutionarily speaking: Homosexuality.

The following is an explanatory excerpt from The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins. I am adding this here for my own reference, but I am sure you will find it damn intere
This is a wonderful book by a great author. In fact, I prefer this book to the other books that I've read by Jared Diamond. It is entertaining, informative, and every page is interesting. The book covers a vast range of topics, such as how are humans qualitatively different from other animals, why do men do stupid things to impress women, why do people practice adultery, why do humans practice genocide, how did languages evolve, why do some people become addicted to drugs, why do humans produce ...more
Funny that I read this book in Mexico, a country where more people believe in creation than evolution. For the record, I think we evolved from apes. For the record, that doesn't bother me in the least.

I am going to do two things, first, I will talk about what I learned from this book, secondly I am going to go on a rant about anthropology. While this book was interesting, there were parts where the author stepped far beyond his area of expertise, leading to some very weak chapters. Further, this
Excellent. I'm giving it four stars instead of five only because from the vantage of 2014 its age shows, mainly in the absence of some information learned since it was written about the Neanderthals and the similar but then-unknown Denisovan people - specifically, the presence of small amounts of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in the modern human gene pool - and in the absence of that knowledge, the author makes some assumptions about our history with those other peoples that are incomplete at be ...more
I've read Diamond's Collapse and Guns, Germs and Steel and had never heard of this book before, so when I saw it at the bookstore I picked it up because I thought it was his new book. It wasn't. It was his first book, and it shows. This is basically a primer for the rest of his books, since all his other books are expansions of chapters/sections in this one. Why is Sex Fun? is Chapter 3, Guns, Germs and Steel is Part 4 and Collapse is Part 5.

My problem with this book, besides the fact that I'd r
Jared Diamond should be required reading. He has influenced my view of humanity and history more than probably anyone except maybe a history professor in college, where I was a history minor. No, I think I Diamond has influenced me more.

I stumbled across a 3 part series on PBS based on Guns, Germs and Steel a couple of years ago and was floored. I bought and read the book immediately and was even more blown away. Since then I have read Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Why i
Helga Mohammed el-Salami
Dr. Diamond’s first book for which he won nothing but the admiration of some pathetic, lifeless losers like yours truly. But he should have. It was excellent. True that Chimpanzee is the Salieri to Guns’ Mozart, but what it lacks in breadth it makes up in simplicity and erudition. I breezed through this book with nary a trip to Wikipedia unlike GGS, which sent me there virtually every day. And yet I still learned a ton.

The chapter titled “The Golden Age That Never Was” was a delightful decimati
Bart Everson
Mar 18, 2011 Bart Everson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Homo spaiens
I first became aware of Jared Diamond while having lunch in Tampere in the summer of 2001. I was there in Finland for a conference, and one of my lunch companions was raving about Guns, Germs, and Steel. A quick glance at other reviews indicates that's his most revered book; it seems to be an expansion of a single chapter in The Third Chimpanzee. Indeed many if not all of his subsequent books seem to expand on themes he first addressed here. That says a lot about the scope and ambition of Third ...more
Good book but not quite as good as Guns, Germs, and Steel. This book was written before that one and you can tell that Jared Diamond becomes a more polished and focused writer. The Third Chimpanzee focuses on how many of the characteristics the we consider uniquely "human" (language, art, murder) really aren't as unique as we think. He makes good arguments but maybe takes on more than he should. Still, it sets the stage for Diamond's later works (including Collapse which I still haven't read. ...more
Bill Sleeman

…Small bands [of “uncontacted” peoples]…continue to turn up. But at some point within the early twenty-first century, we can expect the last first contact, and the end of the last separate experiment at designing human society…that last first contact won’t mean the end of cultural diversity…but the shift from isolated groups to global population does mean a drastic loss of [some types] of diversity. That loss is to be mourned…

Reading this ARC copy of Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee (for you
Nov 21, 2008 Djiezes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all members of the species homo sapiens
Shelves: eclectic, non-fiction
An excellent read.
Jared Diamond gives a broad overview of the history of homo sapiens, its biological and cultural origins..
He focuses on the human history, traces its evolutionary origins and treats topics such as the rise and fall of civilizations, the role of language, domestication of animals and plants, ecology, geography, extinctions of other species and the role humans played in all these domains.
A must-read for members of the species.
If I could have a brain transplant, I'd choose to have Jared Diamond's. Loved the whole book! If you have a curious bent, it will blow the doors of your mind wide open. Loved loved loved the disquisition on the Kurgan hypothesis - brilliant to find out where the two disparate languages that I speak came from!
Jackie Brady
I listened to this book because I liked Guns, Germs, and Steel so much and this was readily available from my library. I did not realize at the time how long ago the book was published (1991), but as I began to read it, it seemed like much of the information was outdated. I can't name any particular information that has added to our knowledge about evolution, but I am certain I have read more recent accounts that discuss things which had probably not been discovered when Diamond wrote this book. ...more
In this sprawling, fascinating book, Jared Diamond explores the place of humans in the animal kingdom. As in his later "Guns, Germs, and Steel" and "Collapse", Diamond weaves together an enormous range of subjects: taxonomy and genetics (to establish how closely humans are related to chimps), evolution and sexual selection (to investigate the animal precursors to distinguishing human features like language, art, drug abuse, and genocide,) and geography and history (to establish why certain human ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Joe rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chimpanzees, hittites, ghosts of tazmanians
Let's agree this book serves as the map of Jared Diamond's career as a popular science author. It's the salt flats, the test kitchen, the proving ground for the ideas that appear more completely in Collapse; Guns, Germs and Steel; and Why is Sex Fun? The sections in The Third Chimpanzee that broach the ideas he explores in those books are, predictably, excellent.

As I see it, there are a couple of depths tested in this book that are as-yet un-plumbed. He ought to plumb one, and leave the other s
Daniel Solera
Originally published in 1993, The Third Chimpanzee is in many regards, a precursor to Jared Diamond’s much acclaimed Guns, Germs and Steel. In fact, Guns is basically an expansion of Chapter 14 of this book, “Accidental Conquerors”; I am also predicting that Diamond’s newest book, Collapse is an expansion of Chapter 17, “The Golden Age That Never Was”. Anyway, where Guns deals with the human race as societies, Chimpanzee deals with it on an anthropological and sociological level. The book detail ...more
Juliet Wilson
This is a fascinating book that looks at human evolution and searches for how it is similar to and how it differs from animal evolution. So there are chapters devoted to searching for the animal precursors of speech (eg chimpanzee vocalisations) and art (eg bowerbirds bowers), the overall intention being to determine how we became so different from the chimpanzees with whom we share most of our genetic information. Its not just positive attributes that are studied either, there are chapters devo ...more
This marvelous book was written in 1992, so it seems I am reading my Jared Diamond books out of order; this is the first book he wrote, and the third I have read (having read Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1999) in January of 2000, and having read Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005) just this February). As a precursor to some of the themes that he took up in the other books, it’s a fun read; and it’s a fun read on its own, in that it regards Homo Sapie ...more
This was a very good book. Just the amount of topics Diamond intelligently delves into makes it worthwhile, with all of them being relevant to the title, namely The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. It is true that the book is a bit outdated in relation to the dates of our evolution or the different theories postulated to explain human sexuality or certain traits, but it is nevertheless interesting and very important.

In relation to Evolutionary Psychology (Sociobiology) for which this b
Interesting book that was more like 3.5 stars for me. Jared Diamond is an incredibly fascinating guy and I really enjoyed his two more well known books ("Guns, Germs and Steel" and "Collapse"). In fact, this book was published before either of those and the last few chapters of "Third Chimpanzee" really laid the groundwork for both of the later books. The only thing I didn't like about this book is that Diamond cites minute examples of animals engaged in "human" behavior (such as using "language ...more
Betty Ho
Granted, humans are unlike all living beings, but there is only a 1.6% difference in DNA between the chimpanzees and us. The author points out that the cultural traits that make us unique are in fact quite common among animals. For instance, language, art, technology, agriculture, even drug abuse and genocide all have their animal precursors. Biological difference only contributes a small percentage of our "humanness" while the environmental factors actually did most of the work.

We are, after a
Just before Easter weekend I finally finished Jared Diamond's 1992 book, “ The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal". Jared Diamond is, of course, more famous now for his hugely successful 1997 book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” (GGS) and that was also how I was first introduced to works of Mr. Diamond. Having read GGS only a few months ago, it was hard not to notice how much this earlier book established for its successor: arguments made in detail in GGS are outlined throug ...more
May 08, 2008 DJ rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in evolution, history, or science
Shelves: evolution
Jared Diamond's broad overview of human history and evolution offers intelligent evolutionary explanations for everything from menopause to aging to smoking and peacock feathers. On the way, he introduces readers to his ideas on environmental responsibility and geography that form the basis of this other two books, 'Collapse' and 'Guns, Germs, and Steel', respectively.

General Themes:
-Differences can be used to mark evolutionary divergence.
-Aging is an evolutionary accident, not a 'natural proces
Fascinating stuff from Jared Diamond. He covers a lot more ground than in the other books of his I've read: Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel. The book covers 4 mains areas: Human Origins, Sex, Rise of Civilization, and Fall of Civilization. He has written books that cover each of the last 3 in more detail. So much has be written on human origins that you can easily get it elsewhere.

I appreciated the fact that even though I already read G,G,S and Collapse I didn't feel that he was just recycl
Jon Edward
Jan 04, 2013 Jon Edward rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one in the present
It's impossible to write a fair review of the contents of a 20+-year-old popular science book. There are more up to date, and just as easily accessible, books you could read on the subjects Diamond addressed. As for style, it's generally well-written as Diamond's books always are.

My advice: if you see this one on a "free, take what you want" bookshelf, leave it there. It's like n clipping of a magazine article from the early 90s. It's just not going to be as awesome and life-altering now as you
Örvar Steingrímsson
Bróðir minn hefur mikið dálæti af þessum höfundi en hefur ekki lesið þessa bók.
Hlustaða á hana í nokkrum hlutum. En tæklaði svo mesta hlutann af henni með vinnu sem var allt í lagi. Datt út nokkrum sinnum en skipti ekki öllu máli.
Mjög fræðandi og skemmtileg bók en auðvitað aðeins mismunandi eftir því hvað hver kafli fjallar um. Skemmtileg að lesa um hvernig við höfum þróast frá venjulegum apa í þessa apaketti sem við erum í dag. Sömuleiðis áhugavert en sorglegt að lesa um það illa í mannfólkinu
Jim Johnson
As usual, Diamond delivers a thought-provoking book. It was interesting to follow the evolution of our species, as compared with our chimpanzee cousins. I'm not sure of the scientific viability of his "humans as a third species of chimpanzee" hypothesis but it made for an excellent framework with which to shape the narrative.

Much of the early book delved into evolutionary science but the author couldn't help but to slide back into subject matter from previous books (i.e. Guns, Germs, and Steel),
I picked this up without checking the publication date. Oops. Very decent reasoning and a wonderful synthetic approach, but no exhilarating new ideas for anyone interested in sociobiology/evolutionary psychology circa 2014. Still, a solid and readable work and some clear insights, despite a few unnecessary repetitions.
Another excellent and thought-provoking Jared Diamond book. I suggest that, if you have the opportunity, you read this before any of his other books, as it was his first and served as inspiration for the rest. As you get further along, the information becomes somewhat redundant if you've already read "Guns, Germs and Steel" and "Collapse". There is still plenty of sideline information here that doesn't appear in the other books, though, and the early chapters about the similarities and differenc ...more
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The Point 4 58 Nov 12, 2014 07:38AM  
  • What Evolution Is
  • At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea
  • Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
  • Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • Climbing Mount Improbable
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors
  • Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans
  • Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
  • Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
  • The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
  • Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
  • Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence
  • The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey
Jared Diamond is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. He is Professor of Geography at UCLA and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has dedicated this book to his sons and future generations.
More about Jared Diamond...
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality (Science Masters) Natural Experiments of History

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“Isn't language loss a good thing, because fewer languages mean easier communication among the world's people? Perhaps, but it's a bad thing in other respects. Languages differ in structure and vocabulary, in how they express causation and feelings and personal responsibility, hence in how they shape our thoughts. There's no single purpose "best" language; instead, different languages are better suited for different purposes. For instance, it may not have been an accident that Plato and Aristotle wrote in Greek, while Kant wrote in German. The grammatical particles of those two languages, plus their ease in forming compound words, may have helped make them the preeminent languages of western philosophy. Another example, familiar to all of us who studied Latin, is that highly inflected languages (ones in which word endings suffice to indicate sentence structure) can use variations of word order to convey nuances impossible with English. Our English word order is severely constrained by having to serve as the main clue to sentence structure. If English becomes a world language, that won't be because English was necessarily the best language for diplomacy.” 24 likes
“The past was still a Golden Age, of ignorance, while the present is an Iron Age of willful bliss.” 6 likes
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