Start free Blinkist trial Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now Synopsis In The Third Chimpanzee , Jared Diamond explores the evolution of Homo sapiens, which started out like any other animal and gradually became a unique creature capable of producing speech, making art and inventing technology. The book reveals some extraordinary insights about the nature of human beings. Key idea 1 of 8 Science shows that humans are more genetically similar to other primates than previously thought. But exactly how genetically similar are we to our wild cousins, and which ones are our closest relatives?
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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 are really a third kind of chimp. Chapter 2 - We descended from Cro-Magnons, not Neanderthals. Progress no longer depended on genetic evolution but cultural evolution. Chapter 3 - Across primate species, degree of polygyny is correlated with sexual dimorphism in body size and other physical features, and also testis size of males.
We avoid people we grew up with between birth and 6 years, but then as adults we seek out partners similar to those people. Chapter 6 - Racial variation can be explained only partly by natural selection correlation between skin pigmentation and latitude - which is nevertheless noisy ; but it is also probably due largely to sexual selection which results from the mating preferences reviewed in the previous chapter. Chapter 7 - Body is like a car. Scheduled maintenance and unscheduled repair.
When do you scrap it? When everything breaks at once. The evolutionary reasoning is this: the body is only as strong as the weakest part. Human childbirth is particularly dangerous. Having a fourth kid could kill the mom and put the other three at risk.
Chapter 8 - Most sophisticated animal "language" studied to date is the vocalizations of vervet monkeys. They are truly words, not just stimulus-response grunts, because they sometimes use them in a lie to confuse rival troops.
That stage may have enabled the Great Leap Forward. Chapter 9 - First human Cro-Magnon art emerged around the Great Leap Forward 40, years ago in the form of cave paintings and flutes. It is as if women put each of their suitors in sequence through a weight-lifting contest, sewing contest, chess tournament, eye test, and boxing tournament, and finally went to bed with the winner.
And now that we have lots of free time, our art can get very elaborate and serve other functions such as aesthetics as well. Chapter 10 - No other primate practices agriculture. Closest thing is ants, which grow fungus and use insects such as aphids like cattle, drinking their honeydew. The elite became healthier, but at the expense of the majority who became worse off. It spread largely because it could support a population density 10x of hunter-gatherers, and 10 malnourished warriors can still beat 1 healthy bushman.
Chapter 11 - We drink and use drugs as a sexual advertisement that says, look how much of a handicap I can give myself and still be superior. Like birds of paradise with long tails that make it susceptible to attack. It says, look how long and heavy my tail is but I can still get away from predators. Chapter 12 - An important consideration in guessing whether intelligent life exists elsewhere is the degree of convergent evolution inevitably.
On the other hand, eyes and flight evolved multiple times independently. Chapter 13 - Europe has about 50 languages, but New Guinea has one hundredth of the population but 1, languages.
Chapter 14 - Of the many plants and animals available as candidates for domestication, only a few are actually domesticable, and those happened to be in Europe and the Near East. Chapter 15 - Language evolves over time, and languages diverge to become mutually unintelligible when a group becomes isolated, just like speciation.
The package of agriculture and technology there allowed rapid waves of expansion, then another expansion into the Americas, and now half the world speaks Indo-European languages. Chapter 16 - Chimps are xenophobic. They recognize members of other bands and treat them differently.
They practice genocide. Chapter 17 - Tells the story of three ancient civilizations that collapsed due to environmental exhaustion: Easter Island, Anasazi, and Petra. Humans crossed the latter during an opening 12, years ago. They reached Tierra del Fuego within 1, years. Chapter 19 - Four mechanisms of species extermination: overhunting, species introduction, habitat destruction, and ripple effects.
The book is divided into five parts. Part one deals with the similarity between humans and chimpanzees. The Hominini genus includes humans , chimpanzees and bonobos. The title of the book refers to how similar taxonomically chimps and humans are, as their genes differ by just 1. In fact, the chimpanzee-human difference is smaller than some within-species distances: e. Going by genetic differences, humans should be treated as a third species of chimpanzee after the common chimpanzee and the bonobo.
NHK Special: Jared Diamond's Rise of the Third Chimpanzee
Both of his parents were from Ashkenazi Jewish families who had emigrated to the United States. Years later, he would propose to his wife after playing the Brahms Intermezzo in A major for her. While in his twenties he developed a second, parallel, career in ornithology and ecology , specialising in New Guinea and nearby islands. Later, in his fifties, Diamond developed a third career in environmental history and became a professor of geography at UCLA, his current [update] position.
The Third Chimpanzee