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

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  15,564 Ratings  ·  596 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
Paperback, 407 pages
Published January 3rd 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published May 2nd 1991)
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Apr 19, 2012 Chuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: our-past
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
SJ Loria
May 19, 2011 SJ Loria rated it it was ok
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
Mar 16, 2011 John rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2010 Bonnie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Bart Everson
Mar 18, 2011 Bart Everson rated it it was amazing
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
Helga Mohammed el-Salami
Jun 28, 2007 Helga Mohammed el-Salami rated it really liked it
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
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!
May 04, 2008 Victor rated it liked it
Shelves: science, history
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
Dov Zeller
Dec 28, 2015 Dov Zeller rated it liked it
Hmmm. This one is a bit dated and he goes off on some not terribly impressive tangents. But also a lot of interesting stuff.

Here is an outline of the book:

And here is a great critical review
Feb 04, 2015 Gendou rated it liked it
Jared Diamond is a mostly sensible anthropologist. However, he's a lousy evolutionary biologist.

For example, he presents multiple theories of the reason for homo sapiens concealed ovulation. These are presented with false balance i.e. he doesn't share the consensus view, or the quality (and lack thereof) for each theory. Some have laughably low plausibility, in my opinion. He should have done the research and presented the reader with the likely truth, not a list of mostly bad ideas. Worst of al
Mar 18, 2015 Clif rated it really liked it
Were you a visitor to Earth from outer space, you'd want a handbook about the dominant kind of life on the planet. The Third Chimpanzee would be perfect for you!

Jared Diamond has published several books, all of them a pleasure to read, but in this one, he first presents the themes that he develops in the others. You hear about the factors that favored Europeans in their rise to domination of other people, which is greatly expanded upon in Guns, Germs and Steel. You also learn of the common human
Jul 26, 2015 Nola rated it liked it
The Third Chimpanzee is meant to show that humans may be able to preserve the environment and avoid mutual destruction through awareness of our true nature, which is something that we don’t spend much time exploring. This book is meant to remedy that. I don’t need to be convinced that humans are a type of chimpanzee, but Jared Diamond has some convincing evidence that I hadn’t known. For one thing, in addition to humans being more closely related to chimpanzees than to any other species, chimpan ...more
Bill Sleeman
Mar 19, 2014 Bill Sleeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

…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
Boian Alexandrov
Jan 11, 2016 Boian Alexandrov rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The book of Jared Diamond (Pulitzer Prize (1998)) made me think deep about Darwin's theory of evolution and human development.

The novel gives a lot of unusual but real examples, such as; animals that breed another animals; animals that make alcohol; etc.. The book explains what is the meaning of the sexual and natural selections (in the evolutionary sense); why the human evolution has reached today's technological level; what are the social interactions between the primates (for example, are th
David Campbell
Aug 19, 2015 David Campbell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthropology
The single most important book that fed a mind starving for truth, as I stumbled out of seminary with a thousand more questions and issues than when I went in. Diamond has written a veritable blueprint for the human being... Who we are, and how we came to be this way - drawing on a host of parallels from the animal kingdom: speech, communication, sex, mate selection, etc.

It's not a refutation of anything religious. It's a fascinating book that sheds much light on that most peculiar (yet apparen
"A fascinating account of human development from an evolutionary perspective, especially the last 40,000 years since Cro-Magnons likely developed language ability and beat out the Neanderthals, the development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago, and the crossing of the Bering Strait also around 11,000 years ago by Asiatic people who proceeded to spread rapidly over the New World. Also illustrates how human populations tend to exterminate local animal species both directly and indirectly, and ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Djiezes rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all members of the species homo sapiens
Shelves: non-fiction, eclectic
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.
Naim Askar
Jul 22, 2013 Naim Askar rated it it was amazing
كتاب قيم في الانثروبولوجيا يعالج مواضيع متنوعة من التشابه في التركيب الجيني مع الاساسيات و الاسس التي ادت الى تطور الجنس البشري الاصطفاء الجنسي و الاباضة المخفية عند البشر
تطور اللغات البشرية و اهمية اللغة في تطور جنسنا
آراء رائعة في الأخلاق و صفات البشر المتفردة
الابادات الجماعية و الكثير الكثير عن اهمية ايقاف نزيف كوكبنا الذي يقف على حافة الانهيار
May 08, 2008 DJ rated it really liked it
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
Klas Sundelin
Jan 02, 2017 Klas Sundelin rated it it was amazing
How did humans evolve from one out of many large animals to aquire language, art, music, to become aware of its own history and place in the universe? Jared Diamond tells an exciting, coherent and relatively accurate story in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee - How our animal heritage affect the way we live.

A book that tries to tell a story that spans several million years will have to be very selective. Especially when it draws data from fields such as biology, archeology, lin
Daniel Solera
Feb 21, 2010 Daniel Solera rated it really liked it
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
Nov 24, 2008 Joe rated it liked it
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
Apr 27, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
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
Sheng Peng
Aug 30, 2016 Sheng Peng rated it did not like it
I will show below why I think Jared doesn't know what he is talking about, why he is an abysmal science writer, and why he is as much of a drama queen as Gladwell.

Firstly, most people would put this book on the "evolutionary biology" shelf. So Jared better know something about evolution and biology. He does. But not nearly enough. For example, I noticed at least five times where he had used group selection, by which a gene propagates because it's beneficial to the group rather than to the indivi
Mar 15, 2013 M.J. rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Neil Pearson
Mar 12, 2015 Neil Pearson rated it it was ok
I listened to the unabridged Audiobook version so possibly missed out on some diagrams but found it really clear. Basically, I could tell this was one of Diamond's first books as it did not compare well to collapse. It may well be due to the fact that I know a lot more about biology/evolution than I do about climate and ecology (I work as a molecular biologist) and therefore find it much easier to find holes in his logic or that he is either choosing to ignore some interpretations or is simply u ...more
Aug 21, 2010 Jake rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
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
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The Point 4 66 Nov 12, 2014 07:38AM  
  • At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea
  • Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
  • Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
  • Climbing Mount Improbable
  • The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind
  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom
  • What Evolution Is
  • Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors
  • The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • The Complete World of Human Evolution
  • Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness
  • Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind
  • Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans
  • The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
  • The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors
  • 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...

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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.” 30 likes
“The past was still a Golden Age, of ignorance, while the present is an Iron Age of willful bliss.” 9 likes
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