The Third Chimpanzee Book Summary - The Third Chimpanzee Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Third Chimpanzee summary

Jared Diamond

The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

4.4 (169 ratings)
18 mins
Table of Contents

    The Third Chimpanzee
    Summary of 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Science shows that humans are more genetically similar to other primates than previously thought.

    The similarities between humans and other primates aren’t hard to spot. But exactly how genetically similar are we to our wild cousins, and which ones are our closest relatives?

    Scientists are now able to look at the human genome and calculate exactly how alike humans and apes are. The results are pretty striking. We share 96.4 percent of our genes with orangutans, 97.7 percent with gorillas and an incredible 98.6 percent with chimpanzees.

    Effectively, that means that a mere 1.4 percent of our DNA distinguishes us from chimpanzees. Of that percentage, only a small amount contains the genetic tools that helped us develop those attributes we consider uniquely human, such as language, art and technology.

    In fact, we're so genetically close to chimps that some scientists even consider us part of the same family.

    In most encyclopedias, you'll find humans and chimpanzees classed in the same order, the Primates, and the same superfamily, the Hominoidea, but in separate families: the Hominidae for humans and Pongidae for chimpanzees.

    However, one school of taxonomy – known as the cladistics – arranges species based on relative genetic distance. Using this method, humans and chimps are part of not only the same family, but even the same genus.

    They conceive of not one but three separate species within the Homo genus: Homo troglodytes, the common chimpanzee; Homo paniscus, the bonobo; and us, Homo sapiens.

    Being in the same genus means the species are very closely related, so much so that sometimes they might be distinguishable only to experts. Take the willow warblers and the chiffchaffs as an example. These European birds share 97.7 percent of the same DNA and look virtually identical. But they're less closely related to each other than humans are to chimps.

    So we’re a lot like our chimp cousins – but it’s our few different characteristics, as well as art, technology and language, that really mark our species out.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Third Chimpanzee?

    Key ideas in The Third Chimpanzee

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Third Chimpanzee about?

    In The Third Chimpanzee (1991), 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.

    Best quote from The Third Chimpanzee

    As long as the female has it and the male likes it, sexual selection could lead to any arbitrary trait, just as long as it does not impair survival too much

    —Jared Diamond
    example alt text

    Who should read The Third Chimpanzee?

    • Students of history and anthropology
    • People interested in human evolution
    • Readers querying the essence of humankind

    About the Author

    Jared Diamond is an exemplary scholar. His career has taken him through several fields and he is now professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He’s also published a series of popular science books, including the best-selling Guns Germs and Steel.

    Categories with The Third Chimpanzee

    Books like The Third Chimpanzee

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial