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The Rise And Fall Of The Third Chimpanzee examines how similar and different humans beings are to their ape ancestors. It focuses on the various aspects of human evolution, and the future of human beings as a species.
Summary Of The Book
Ever since Darwin used concrete evidence to show that humans evolved from animals, scientists have been exploring the close links between animals and humans. DNA studies have shown how close this relationship is, especially with the closest relatives of humans, the chimpanzees. The gorillas differ from chimps by 2.3 per cent. Humans and chimps are so closely related, there is only a 1.6 per cent difference separating the two species. Good reason, the author says, for considering humans as The Third Chimpanzee species. Yet, for all the close associations, humans are undeniably different. Where did they begin to diversify and what exact traits set them apart is the subject of The Rise And Fall Of The Third Chimpanzee.
It goes into the questions of sexual selection and the longevity of humans as a species. The author opines that human sexual selection and the emergence of different races were more the result of personal choice rather than any evolutionary benefit. He also goes into the question of lifespan. If the driving reason for all species is to reproduce and rear children, then why do humans survive long past the time their children need their care? He then explores why a few races dominated the world, especially people from Europe and Asia, rather than those from other inhabited continents like Africa or America. He also goes into the difference between hunter-gatherer societies and agriculture based cultures. He then moves on to the subject of humanity's impact on the environment. Since the early eras of human evolution, because of their superior command over the use of tools and their higher intelligence, they have wiped out many species in the lands they entered.
He examines this aspect of human behavior, their destructive tendencies towards others of their own species and towards the world around them. He also sees in this the seeds for humanity's own destruction. The Rise And Fall Of The Third Chimpanzee ends on an optimistic note though, hoping humans would learn from past mistakes and begin to live in harmony with Nature.
About Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond is an American scientist and writer of popular science books. He is also the author of The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?, Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed and Guns, Germs, And Steel: The Fates Of Human Societies.
Jared Diamond was born in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was a doctor and his mother was a linguist and musician. He graduated from Harvard College, then earned a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He then went back to Harvard to teach. He became the professor of Physiology at UCLA Medical School and later, the professor of Geography. His first popular science book was The Third Chimpanzee. He followed this up with Guns, Germs, and Steel, which won him the Pulitzer Prize.