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Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature—A New Evolutionary History
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Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature—A New Evolutionary History

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,439 ratings  ·  172 reviews
Publisher’s note: Humanimal was published in the UK under the title The Book of Humans.

Evolutionary theory has long established that humans are animals: Modern Homo sapiens are primates who share an ancestor with monkeys and other great apes. Our genome is 98 percent identical to a chimpanzee’s. And yet we think of ourselves as exceptional. Are we?

In this original and en
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by The Experiment (first published March 19th 2016)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,439 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Kat Kennedy
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m not what you would consider a science-literate person. But I thought this book was well-written and thoughtful. There should probably be some warning for readers though that the subject of coercive sex is brought up in the animal kingdom.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This is a thoughtful, informative book that doesn't really achieve what it sets out to do. It seeks to show how we became uniquely human. But the first 2/3 actually shows how many of our attributes including tool use, fire use and different kinds of sexual behaviour are seen elsewhere in nature. In the last 3rd, Rutherford traces how we got here by looking at genetics, palaeontology and more parallels from animal behaviour. Ultimately, he suggests, our sociability and urge to communicate allowed ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2019
To say we have dominated the globe would be an understatement. We have conquered the highest mountains, reached deep into the oceans, become one of the few mammals that can fly and even been in the unique position of having had a select number of people leave the planet when they ventured into space. We tend to think of ourselves as exceptional, but are we? When you look at it from a bigger perspective, we are a single twig on a four-billion-year-old family tree that has countless species and lo ...more
Tanja Berg
This was an interesting book on what makes human unique and how we have become so successful. Nothing much new here, but very easy to read if the territory is unfamiliar.
Rutherford writes well. However, the Book of Humans was often lacking in deeper explanations and sometimes frustrating when the author tries to avoid anything taboo.

For instance, when discussing the causes of our motives and whether they may be for survival or reproduction he didn't explain the invaluable distinction between ultimate and proximate causes.

Although it's very readable, I wouldn't recommend it unless you only wanted to dip your toes into evolution and animal behaviour.

Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: average, non-fiction
The book of Humans was an enjoyable read in my opinion, but it did disappoint me. It was not what I expected. It is suitable for every reader with an interest in (evolutionary) biology and you do not need to be an expert on the topic to understand it.

This book wants to tell us how we became who we are. Why are humans so unique. Sadly it does not achieve its goal. Adam Rutherford points out that many of our "unique" attributes, those that supposedly make us human, can be found in other animals a
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-btr
This was a very interesting read. There is a lot of science in this book but it is explained in a easy format for a general audience. What the books asks is What Makes Humans different than Animals?
If it is not culture then what?. The book goes on to explain than what we consider traits of human culture has also been found in different species in different times. Many animals have all the physical equipment to communicate but they dont ...then what makes humans communicate?. The conclusion of th
Yousif Al Zeera
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I have no concrete scientific background other than casual readings into science. This book didn't disappoint my 'scientific ignorance'. An enjoyable pop science book right from the beginning. Lots of interesting examples from the animal kingdom on various topics. Definitely convinced me to have a look at his other books (and his shows!) I had yet to check out his show at the BBC but from his writings (and his narration being the narrator of the book as well), I can feel how great would be his s ...more
Canuck Mom of Three
It was probably a mistake to read this book right after finishing Yuval Noah Harari's exceptional Sapiens. The contrast between these two books could not be more stark. They both deal with similar subject matter, but where Harari is incredibly logical and coherent in the exposition of his ideas, Rutherford's book seems like a disorganized mish-mash of recycled bits from his various other writings. Reading this book feels like sitting next to a drunk intellectual in a bar. While his individual an ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ultimately Rutherford tells us we are special. The usual anthropocentric hubris.
Bianca A.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, speed-read
I found the cover of this book very cool and the content quite similar to the book Sapiens, but unfortunately quite inferior to it and as a consequence it felt, to me, as just more of the same. I'd prefer to reread Sapiens instead. ...more
Todd Martin
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Masturbating Bear

Human beings share a common ancestor with all of the other living species that can be found on the Earth. We therefore have much in common with other creatures. Yet, there’s also something that sets us apart. Perhaps the most obvious is that humans are far and away the most narcissistic of nature’s creations, thus we want to read books about the traits we have in common with other animals and things that make us unique.

Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature—A New
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
What an intriguing look at the fine lines that separate humans from animals, and yet really, there is not a lot of distinction genetically. The descriptions of DNA and genetic codes were easy enough to follow, and yet at the end I found myself not really close to understanding the brilliance of science and nature. I believe the point of the book was to inform readers that despite the marvelous advances in scientific research, DNA coding, continual theory, speculation, and scientific experimentat ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
This book tells the story of Homo Sapiens. Why are we so similar to other animals not just in our physiology but also in our behavior? We humans are tool makers, but we now know that tool making is prevalent among other species as well. Dolphins use sponges to protect their beaks when foraging for food in the sea floor. Chimps apply sticks to catch termites or honey out of a beehive. In terms of sexuality, there are similarities too. Some animals have been seen masturbating and homosexuality is ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I love how this book as much seeks to bring arrogance about human exceptionalism down a peg or two, as it seeks to reinforce how wildly amazing homo sapiens scientifically, genuinely are from every other creature in existence on the planet. Of course, this answers no questions, but rather adorns and illuminates long-held speculations over what exactly, if anything, makes humans more special than any other mammal.

The tone and style of Adam Rutherford's books are also just so readable; being a pr
Shabbeer Hassan
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very well-written book on an oft-pondered upon issue - What makes us human? Is it our culture, ability to transmit and write stories or ability to develop tools?

Rutherford makes a passionate case for us humans not being so different from the animals at all. We traditionally have been guilty of thinking us to be the pinnacle of an evolutionary ladder (nothing like that exists btw) and of late, anthropomorphising animals to such an extent that we start projecting human conditions/behaviour in t
Sam Worby
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable pop science from one of my favourite radio presenters.
Christian Oltra
Simplistic interpretations, incoherent presentation of chapters. I could not finnis it.
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The effort to distinguish humans from the rest of the animals has filled volumes since before Darwin took his fated voyage on the HMS Beagle: tools, war, sex habits, language. In his latest book, The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us, geneticist Adam Rutherford looks at each of these things and how our behaviour is different to and often surprisingly similar to other animals. The use of tools eg. was once seen as the main distinguishing factor that made us unique but scientists have ...more
Annette Jordan
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Evolutionary history and evolutionary biology are fascinating subjects, and in his latest book, Humanimal, author Adam Rutherford takes a look at what sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and asks if we are truly as unique as we have been led to believe. Broadly speaking he looks at a variety of behaviours that are often regarded as uniquely human , ranging from speech and communication , to art and the use of tools and even sex for pleasure rather than procreation and finds ex ...more
Udit Nair
I am Udit
I am Homo sapien
I am a great ape
I am simian
I am a primate
I am a mammal
I have a backbone
I am an animal
Yet I am one amongst the paragon of animals.

This book is incredibly insightful and impressive. The author tries to find answer to one of the most complex question we as humans try to understand. The question is we are so similar to our cousins and other animals yet we are so special. I mean as Darwin said with all the exalted powers,man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My mother in law keeps giving me BBC sponsored pop-science books to read and thinking that they'll blow my mind. Mr Rutherford (through his frequent subjective footnotes) appears to be that kind of liberal that is always trying to be more progressive than his neighbour. He rails against the usage of the word 'man' to represent 'mankind' to represent 'humans' to represent homo-sapiens and determines everything culturally appropriate to be 'natural' and observable in the natural world and everythi ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
maybe for a biologist, this book would be too simple. but for this borderline biology-ignorant physicst, it was perfect! i love adam's podcasts (bbc inside science and curious case with hannah fry), but decided to give this book a go after he was a guest on sean carroll's mindscape podcast.
it is written in simple enough terms for a layman to navigate (i got a bit lost with the genes and dnas and proteins in the last third). loved the way it is organized, and the quotes from darwin made me tear u
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well this was an interesting find. If not a little odd. I picked it up while wandering through a book shop on my lunch break. I’m fond of non fiction- not only because I find it breaks up my reading (especially if I’m in a rut) but I love learning more about our world. I started this book with the greatest of intentions but found it went off in all sorts of tangents and that primarily it wasn’t necessarily what I was after. Very informative and if you’re interested in finding out more about the ...more
Florent Diverchy
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting reading, especially the second part, focus on what makes us different, like our puzzling pair of Chromosome 2.
The book just suffers the same problem as much similar books: when comparing men to animals, exemples are given in reasonable quantities for each aspects, but suddenly explode when starting to talk about sex. It's just like the authors are thinking: "Let's give them what they want, it's good for the business". Apart from this disproportion, really pleasant reading.
Holly Law
I enjoyed the penultimate chapter and I can’t stop telling people that giraffes have more homosexual than heterosexual sex 🦒 but that’s the only enjoyment I got out of this book. If I’m being generous it could well be the subject itself just doesn’t float my boat.
Andrew Lucas
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very accessible introduction to some major questions about how humans got to be the way we are. In a fast-moving field, this is an up-to-the-minute guide to the latest science for non-scientists, covering intriguing issues. Recommended. read it before it gets out of date!
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Up there with the best books I've read, ever. Superb stuff from Dr Rutherford. ...more
Evan Cohen
Mar 12, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
a work of fiction, total nonsense
Angelique Simonsen
Very interesting and such an easy read
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Adam David Rutherford (born 1975) is a British geneticist, author, and broadcaster. He was an audio-visual content editor for the journal Nature for a decade, is a frequent contributor to the newspaper The Guardian, hosts the BBC Radio 4 programme Inside Science, has produced several science documentaries and has published books related to genetics and the origin of life.

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