The Naked Ape

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The Naked Ape is a popular science book by Desmond Morris. Dr. Morris surprised society in 1967 by writing a pop anthropology book, first serialized in London's Daily Mirror tabloid, in which he described humans in the same objective, analytical way that zoologists describe animals.

Dr. Morris was the curator of mammals at the London Zoo, a specialist in primates, and his then radical idea was to view mankind as no more than a very complicated primate. The title of the book is derived from the fact that there are 193 species of monkeys and apes on the planet, of which man is the only one not entirely covered in fur and is, therefore, the only naked ape.

Some critics of the book pointed out that Dr. Morris was a zoologist, not an anthropologist, and as such was making radical speculations by defining man in purely zoological terms.

The book made for a livelier-than-expected read because it focused on sex and mating rituals. Morris pointed out that man is "the sexiest primate" and noted that Homo Sapiens not only has the biggest brain of all primates, but also the largest penis.


A 1973 movie directed by Donald Driver — based on the book — was made starring Johnny Crawford and Victoria Principal. This version of The Naked Ape is somewhere between a documentary and a series of anecdotes, which some claim makes it difficult to follow.

In 2006 an independent movie was made based loosely on the book, written and directed by Daniel Mellitz, starring Josh Wise, Chelse Swain, Sean Shanks, Amanda MacDonald, Tony LaThanh, Corbin Bernsen.

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